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What do election results bode for Iowa ag?

By Staff | Nov 10, 2008

Farm News news editor

The post 2008 presidential elections have people across the country wondering what’s next?

For those who are in the egg production industry, the overwhelming passage of California’s Proposition 2, which passed with 63 percent of voters in favor, will legislate the types of cages for egg production, and other animal welfare issues.

Prop 2. language calls for each laying hen to have enough space in her cage that she can spread her wings without touching any part of the cage or another bird. Egg production farmers have until 2015 to comply.

According to Anna Johnson, an Iowa State University animal welfare specialist, this could spell disaster for that state’s egg industry.

“Even the new European cages would not qualify under Proposition 2,” Johnson said. In fact, she added, there are no cages presently being manufactured that would meet the new requirement.

She said the new law gives California producers three options:

• Change management to free-range.

• Move out of the state.

• Go out of business.

“People (voters) are concerned about animal welfare issues,” Johnson said, “but there are better ways to regulate and monitor the welfare of food animals than through legislation.”

She said that since Iowa leads the nation in egg production, then producers looking to relocate may look to this state since the feed is readily available and the marketing infrastructure is in place.

But Iowa producers are not sanguine about that development, Johnson admitted, and are also concerned if Prop. 2 “will grow legs and find its way around the country.”

Latham, King, Harkin re-elected

After two years of electioneering and promised changes that, if implemented, will make this election the landmark event of the century, the days following Tuesday’s vote have been quiet.

Iowa was proved right again after giving President-elect Barack Obama his kick start in the 2008 caucus.

But the Democrat juggernaut that swept through other states did not change the balance of power in Iowa as U. S. Representative Tom Latham, a Republican from Alexander, was re-elected to an eighth two-year term to represent Iowa’s 4th district.

Likewise, Republican Steve King, of Storm Lake, was re-elected to his fourth two-year term representing Iowa’s 5th district.

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, won an easy re-election bid to the U. S. Senate.

For the nation’s Republicans, noted Bill Northey, Iowa secretary of agriculture, “It (Tuesday) was a disappointing night. It was always going to be an uphill battle and, I think, the desire for change won the day.

In Iowa, there are certainly some bright spots for Republicans. In addition, there were a number of good candidates elected to both sides of the aisle who understand agriculture and renewable energy and I believe will work to make Iowa a leader on these issues.”

Contact Larry Kershner at kersh@farm-news.com

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