Some people believe that neutrality in times of conflict and controversy can be a good thing. There are others who feel that assuming a position of neutrality exposes weakness, and that we must always take a side if we are going to make a difference. When the members of the AVMA Executive Board had to decide whether the association would support the controversial Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments, also known as HR 3798, they had the choice of staying neutral on federal legislation that would require enriched housing for laying hens.
They chose to take action instead.
Because of our primary concern about hen welfare, the Executive Board decided to support the legislation. The decision was not made lightly. There was extensive deliberation, and the board reasoned that the standards are consistent with AVMA policy, as well as industry long-term expectations about changes in egg-production practices.
The Executive Board knew full well that many would be quite upset with us for supporting this legislation, especially the groups that believe this could be the first step toward federal animal welfare oversight of other production farm animals while still on the farm, a heretofore off-limits area. These fears are real, and members of the AVMA Executive Board – knowing that their actions would have ramifications regardless of which decision was made – respect and understand these concerns and the overall complexity of the issues associated with farm animal production and welfare. To that end, the AVMA will work to ensure that, if passed, implementation of the legislation results in the expected animal-welfare improvements, is reasonable, and minimizes any adverse impacts on producers, associated industries and consumers.