The battery egg industry has just been handed the worst possible news. In exchange for immunity, a top egg producer, Sparboe Farms, has implicated much of the industry in a giant price-fixing scheme:
Sparboe agreed to turn over documents and communications with the United Egg Producers in exchange for being dropped from the lawsuit. Sparboe owner Beth Schnell was traveling in Europe and could not immediately be reached for comment, but a letter the company wrote to the trade group in 2003 expressed concern that the order for stock reductions “strikes of price fixing to us.”
In one stroke, the industry’s troubles have doubled. Before, it was fighting a one-front war against animal advocates seeking to ban battery cages. Now, thanks to this turncoat, it’s now fighting a losing battle in a big-money lawsuit that could mortally wound many top egg companies. And I don’t think Johnnie Cochrane himself could successfully defend the egg industry, given the massive evidence of wrongdoing that apparently exists.
HSUS Chief Economist Jennifer Fearing sums things up nicely:
The industry insists they can’t afford a penny per egg to (switch to cage-free systems) and yet that penny pales in comparison to the profits they’ve been reaping from this alleged scheme. It proves the egg industry doesn’t care about consumers or animals.
This story has just broken in the past few hours, and it would require a lengthy analysis for me to adequately demonstrate why this is a huge deal. I’ll doubtless be covering this lawsuit extensively in the months ahead. I’m confident that, years from now, when battery cages have been banned nationwide, today’s news will be cited as a key moment signaling the industry’s doom. (Via Shapiro.) Link.