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Consensus comes too late to avert egg crisis: former Egg Council head

Patrick Flanary
Lawmakers yesterday announced compromise legislation that could go before Governor Baker for signature today.

Lawmakers today sent to Governor Baker revised animal-welfare legislation that would have purged supermarket shelves of eggs in Massachusetts on the first day of 2022.

Voters five years ago approved outlawing the sale of eggs laid by hens confined to spaces smaller than 1.5 square feet. Egg suppliers and some animal-rights advocates have since agreed the requirement is outdated and no longer necessary given the industry’s evolving standard on caging.

Lawmakers have negotiated since October to tweak the language and sidestep a looming threat to the egg supply. Last week Baker urged them to send him consensus legislation, but even with his signature today Massachusetts will not immediately avert a temporary egg shortage next month, David Radlo, a former president of the New England Brown Egg Council, tells Morning Edition's Patrick Flanary.

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David Radlo, a past president of the New England Brown Egg Council, says the solution comes too late to avoid a temporary egg shortage in Massachusetts. ‘There's going to be disruption. It's a question of how bad this crisis is going to be,’ Radlo tells CAI’s Morning Edition.

Patrick Flanary: What is exactly at stake over the next week or so?

David Radlo: There is going to be disruption, because with the supply chain it's going to be seven to 14 days to get eggs to a distributor and then get them on the shelves. So whether they solve this thing on Dec. 31 or Jan. 2, you're going to have the same type of disruption. It's terrible. We're talking about a staple food that people really need.

PF: And there's no way of ordering eggs online and having them shipped to me in Massachusetts?

DR: Number one, it doesn't work; and number two, it's against the law. No business is going to look toward violating the law. Businesses simply don't want to deal with this nonsense. The law is the law. They're going to honor it. And when it's changed, they're going to do the best they can to start filling orders again.

PF: Governor Baker was quite vocal about this on Twitter.

DR: I respect the governor. He has common sense. He wants to get ahead of it. He doesn't want a catastrophe in his state. And a lot of people are going to be really upset when they can't get their eggs. And you'll get 7 million calls to the governor's office and the Legislature from everyone being upset.

PF: What do I have to do if I'm one of these lawmakers? How do I solve this today to ensure our grocery store shelves are stocked with eggs?

DR: It doesn't matter if it's Dec. 31 or Jan. 5 or Jan. 10. There's going to be disruption. It's a question of how bad this crisis is going to be. But eventually you will have some equilibrium once the supply comes back.

Patrick Flanary is a dad, journalist, and host of Morning Edition.