The Egg Research and Consumer Information Act of 1974 [7 U.S.C. 2710-2718] authorized a national egg research and promotion program that is both industry-operated and funded, with oversight by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The act allows the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a board of egg producers or representatives of producers.
The program became effective August 1, 1976, when the Egg Research and Promotion Order [7 CFR 1250] was implemented.
The program's goal is to strengthen the position of eggs in the marketplace and to maintain and expand domestic and foreign markets and uses for eggs and egg products. The program is funded by a mandatory assessment of 10 cents per 30-dozen case of eggs sold. Producers owning 75,000 or fewer laying hens may request an exemption from paying assessments. Totaling about $21 million annually, these assessments are used primarily to fund promotion, research, nutrition, and consumer education programs.
The program is administered by the American Egg Board, composed of 18 producer members and their alternates. Each year, the Secretary of Agriculture appoints half the board—for 2-year terms—from nominees provided by eligible producer organizations.
The board meets at least three times during the year to plan and budget the programs authorized by the act. Day-to-day activities are handled by a 19-person staff located in Park Ridge, IL. This staff maintains a compliance unit with responsibilities for contacting and/or auditing the records of individuals who have failed to comply with the act. This activity, coupled with the USDA authority to use legal enforcement actions, is designed to keep delinquencies to a minimum
Economic evaluations of the program have been conducted periodically as required by the Federal Agricultural Improvement and Reform Act. The latest evaluation showed an estimated rate of return of about $6 for every dollar invested in egg promotion.