Farm Bureau files brief in California egg law case

By Agri-Pulse staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, March 11, 2015 - The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) filed a friend-of-the-court brief today supporting the six states challenging California's egg law that places hen cage size restrictions on any shell eggs sold in the state.

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Officials from Missouri, Alabama, Iowa, Kentucky, Nebraska and Oklahoma filed a lawsuit against California last year, but a federal district court in the state dismissed the case in October, allowing the law to be implemented as scheduled on Jan. 1, 2015.

AFBF is supporting the six states' appeal of the case in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit filed last week, arguing that a California law that regulates agricultural production in other states is unconstitutional.

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In 2008, California's legislature passed the Proposition 2 ballot initiative imposing cage size restrictions on California egg producers, and later amended the law to apply to out-of-state egg producers. The law requires laying hens to be housed in spaces large enough for the birds to spread their wings, but does specify required cage measurements.

“Without a legitimate health or safety justification, the California Legislature simply does not have the authority to regulate how eggs are produced in other states,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “A foreign trading partner attempting this kind of trade-barring action would cause an outcry all across the world trade arena.”

AFBF said out-of-state egg producers “are placed between a rock and a hard place,” deciding whether to opt out of the California market or comply by incurring the capital costs associated with installing new cage systems required by the law.

The Congressional Research Service estimates compliance costs between $25 and $30 per hen. AFBF noted that for a medium-sized farm with 300,000 hens, costs would be between $8 million and $9 million.

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