California Egg Law Under Attack By Missouri Attorney General

A California egg law passed in 2008, known as proposition two, is under attack from Missouri attorney general, Chris Koster. Proposition two was approved by voters to require chicken farmers to widen the enclosures for their egg producers. California has been known to pass quite a few laws in recent years, requiring better treatment of animals. Specifically, they passed 358 new food and animal regulations in just the few years leading up to 2010.

The 2008 California egg law was a major concern for farmers in state at the time. They were afraid that the new regulations, to be implemented by 2015, would be too costly. With all the added cost and loss of space, they would fall behind in egg production nationally. In 2012, California was the fifth largest producer of eggs in the U.S.

Out of respect for the concerns of the farmers, a 2010 addendum was added to proposition two. Any egg seller would have to comply with the requirements for larger cages that would ban farmers from “tether[ing] or confin[ing] any covered animal on a farm… in a manner that prevents [it] from (a) Lying down, standing up, and fully extending his or her limbs; and (b) Turning around freely.” While the law itself seems to have good intentions, it has major implication for the food industry.

No other state has anything remotely similar to the California egg law. And in 2015, California will require any egg farmers wanting to do business in their state to comply with their standards. That is the issue that the Missouri attorney general is suing the state of California over.

That’s right. The state of Missouri is taking the state of California to federal court, with the defendant being named as California attorney general, Kamala Harris. Koster wants everyone to know that this isn’t just about commerce and food regulations. He believes this is about state laws and protecting states from being legislated by others.

“If California legislators are permitted to mandate the size of chicken coops on Missouri farms, they may just as easily demand that Missouri soybeans be harvested by hand or that Missouri corn be transported by solar-powered trucks,” Koster said in a statement.

No other states have joined Koster in his fight against the California egg law. But other legislative efforts have been taken to protect midwestern farming interests from the state of California. The farm bill recently passed by the House of Representatives includes a clause limiting the power of individual states in terms of production. It was clear that California was in view.

Though it isn’t clear how much the California egg law will cost farmers, predictions are in the millions statewide.