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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Crawford, Bishop start Congressional Chicken Caucus

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Children of the Great Depression will remember the old CCC, the Civilian Conservation Corps.
As part of the New Deal under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, it was a publicworks relief program that operated from 1933-42 in the United States for unemployed, unmarried men.
It was a brilliant idea. Over its nine years, 2.5 million young men were employed in conservation and natural resources development projects on rural lands owned by federal, state and local governments.
It was credited as one of the key factors in the nation’s ultimate recovery from the Depression.
Now, there’s a new CCC.
It’s the bipartisan Congressional Chicken Caucus, co-founded by congressmen Rick Crawford, R-Ariz., and Sanford Bishop, D-Ga.
The mission of the Chicken Caucus, they said, is to educate members of Congress and their staffs on the concerns and benefits of the U.S. chicken industry.
“The chicken industry employs over 300,000 workers in the United States,” said Crawford.
“My Arkansas district is home to chicken production and I look forward to working with caucus members to advocate for the industry.”
The lawmakers said the new CCC will “educate other members of Congress about the history, contributions and concerns of the U.S. chicken industry, as they pertain to food safety, trade, labor, immigration and the environment.”
U.S. chicken companies directly employ over 300,000 workers, producing products worth a wholesale value of over $45 billion annually with major operations in more than 30 states.
Further, the founding congressmen noted, there are more than 40 vertically integrated companies that contract with about 25,000 family farmers to produce market-ready broilers, hatching eggs and pullets.
Founding members of the Congressional Chicken Caucus include two lawmakers from the Mid-Atlantic — John Carney, D-Del., and Robert Hurt, R-Va.
Right off the bat, the caucus is expected to address legislation that would put into law an agreement between the United Egg Producers and the Humane Society of the U.S.
“The whole regulatory regime will have to be one of our areas of interest (to make sure) that any regulation is based on sound science and that it makes sense to do it,” Bishop said.
Taxes and potential EPA air and water regulations will also be issues the caucus takes on, according to Bishop.
The bill relating to caged hens, which is opposed by the Farm Bureau, specifies a phased-in move to mandatory “enriched cage” housing for all commercial egg-laying hens in the U.S.
Enriched cage housing has nearly double the space of conventional cages and includes perches, nesting boxes and scratching areas.

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