A California Egg Farming Family Navigating A Successful Future Jill Benson Vice President JS West and Companies
JS West Feed Delivery First JS West Delivery Wagon
JS West • 1.8 million laying hens on 3 farms • Four generations of changes • More than 100 Employees and their families
Snapshot of California’s Egg Industry • California ranks 5th in egg production in the U.S. • 19.4 million egg-laying hens in state • 4.9 billion eggs annually • Majority of egg farms are family owned • California is an egg deficit state. Must import one-third of our needs.
California Egg Farming Standards • California Egg Quality Assurance Plan (CEQAP) • One of the most stringent egg production standards in U.S. • CEQAP assures: • Clean chicks, bio-security, sanitation, vaccination, pest control and best practices education • Yearly inspection by California Department of Food and Agriculture Veterinarians • Winner of Vice Presidential Hammer Award • FDA Egg Safety Program launched in July 2010, mirrors CEQAP.
Additional Egg Farming Standards • United Egg Producers Certified Animal Welfare Program • Comprehensive animals welfare guidelines developed and maintained by independent scientific advisory board • Incorporates all aspects of bird health and welfare • Feed, Light, Air, Water, Space, Sanitation • 95% compliance by California producers
About The Initiative • Passed November 4, 2008 • Sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States • Places new mandates on housing for egg-laying hens • We must by 2015 to avoid facing criminal charges
Initiative Text Vague • Vague language presents major hurdles for implementation: • Appears to impact both cages and cage-free • No explicit regulatory language or authority • Doesn’t provide any specific guidelines for cage size (width & height) • Doesn’t provide any specific guidelines for stocking densities • Jurisdictional responsibility is unclear. Law is under the California Health and Safety Code – typically enforced by Department of Health and Human Services.
We Need Clear Standards • Initiative text needs to be clarified. • State needs to develop clear guidelines and standards for housing • Association For California Egg Farmers (ACEF) formed.
JS West moves forward • Reviewed options • Evaluated alternative housing systems • Built 1st Enriched Colony Barn in US – American Humane Certified • Outreach program, tours, videos, live stream • Filed Suit against State of Ca & HSUS for Declaratory Judgement • ACEF involvement working with CDFA to pursue regulations
Lessons Learned • Agriculture must remain active & engaged with political process. • Maintaining strong relationships is crucial. • Voters/Consumers are ill-informed but curious about where their food comes from. • Outreach & educate through shared values – transparency is essential. • Social Media is Key
In the End, There is No End • On-going process to connect with consumers • Drive the discussions proactively multiple venues – Ag Roots, KACF, AEB GEP, Co Website • New platforms, different conversations - Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Sustainability – holistic, balanced approach UEP STF - Animal Husbandry, Food Safety, Environmental Stewardship, Employee Health & Safety, Community Relations & Profitability
Summary • We produce healthy and affordable eggs for California • California has comprehensive animal welfare and egg quality guidelines • Working multiple tracks to achieve clear guidelines in order to build new or refurbish barns by 2015 • Collaborative outreach to educate California consumers about modern farming practices