Consumer egg prices could double in many states if an amendment to the Egg Products Inspection Act isn’t passed by Congress, egg farmers testified in a hearing before the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. 45,000 egg-industry jobs in 24 states could soon be at risk they said if this legislation isn’t passed, allowing dozens of contradictory and unworkable state laws proscribing farm egg production standards to spring up instead.

Without legislation (S.3239), many states could soon mandate laws that are “inconsistent, contradictory and ultimately unworkable,” said egg farmer Greg Herbruck from Michigan. Five states already have such contradictory laws which can cause confusion for consumers, retailers and farmers. Other states could require farmers to only produce cage-free eggs, he said. Retail prices for cage-free eggs are double what regular eggs are, according to U.S.D.A. reports ($2.58 vs $1.28 per dozen) and only 5 percent of consumers buy them, according to United Egg Producers (UEP), a national trade association that represents egg farmers who produce nearly 90 percent of eggs in the U.S. Such laws could jeopardize the entire U.S. egg industry, estimated to account for $6 billion in annual farm-level sales and 97,000 U.S. jobs.