Coalition Claims New Bill Would Raise Food Prices

Consumers will pay more for food at grocery stores and in restaurants if Congress adopts new legislation, according to Keep Food Affordable (KFA), a coalition of agriculture and nutrition organizations. Introduced on Jan. 23 by Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) and several co-sponsors, with the stated intention of ensuring that egg-laying chickens receive proper care, the proposed law, HB 3798 would add to the 6 percent rise in grocery prices that consumers have experienced in the past year.

KFA maintains that if the bill became law it would over-regulate the farmers who provide whole eggs to grocers, restaurant owners, bakers and others, thereby clearing the way for similar over-regulation of family farmers who provide meat, poultry, milk and dairy products for consumers. The result, it says, will be to harm American consumers who are still contending with high unemployment and a poor economy, the group argues, adding that the federal government would end up having to boost spending or divert current spending from food safety or other key programs to enforce such counterproductive regulations.

KFA added that the federal mandates in the bill would cost American egg farmers as much as $10 billion more, which would drive up consumer prices. Similar mandates in European countries have forced egg farmers to increase their operating costs or go under, according to the coalition, which says that some countries have seen egg production decline by 20 percent. Meanwhile, across Europe, egg prices rose almost 8 percent in 2010-2011, the group observes.

Eggs are currently one of the least expensive types of protein, KFA notes, adding that even a small increase in food prices would be detrimental to U.S. shoppers.

The coalition is urging members of Congress to consider the adverse effect the bill would have on farming and American consumers when it comes time to vote on the legislation.

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