Missouri sues California over law regulating eggs and chickens

Feb. 4, 2014 at 9:28 PM

FRESNO, Calif., Feb. 4 (UPI) -- Missouri has challenged a law that would require all eggs sold in California to come from hens kept in larger cages.

In a lawsuit filed Monday, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster said the law, which takes effect in 2015, would mean higher egg prices in California and force Missouri egg producers to either invest heavily in new cages or give up one-third of their sales, the Kansas City Star reported. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Fresno, Calif.

Missouri says California, by imposing regulations on other states, is violating the Constitution's Commerce Clause, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Under current law, chickens are guaranteed 67 square inches of floor space each. Koster said the California law, which does not specify a cage size but says hens must be able to move around, could mean anything from slightly bigger cages to more than 400 square inches a chicken.

The Humane Society, which pushed for the California law, said its aim is to keep hens from being housed in "barren battery cages that are more likely to be infected with salmonella. Officials said Tuesday Koster wants "to curry favor with Big Agribusiness."

Californians consume 9 billion eggs a year, about 6 percent of them from Missouri. About one-third of Missouri eggs, $40 million worth, are shipped to California.

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