California Sued for Requiring That Chickens Have Room to Move

The Missouri attorney general has sued the state of California over a new requirement that chicken cages provide enough room for a chicken to move its limbs. The new regulation is the result of a 2008 ballot initiative requiring “simple, common decency for farm animals: egg-laying hens, pigs, and calves should be afforded enough space to lie down, stand up, turn around and fully extend their limbs”.

Missouri “farmers” produce about 1.7 billion eggs a year, with the bulk of them raised in cages that would be outlawed under the initiative.

From the Christian Science Monitor -

Koster said Tuesday that the California law infringes on the interstate commerce protections of the US Constitution by effectively imposing new requirements on out-of-state farmers.

“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.

One more reason to buy local!

Your thoughts are welcome

  1. Tommy says

    Am I missing something here? How would California’s regulations possibly have any influence over how they do things in Missouri?

    • hsawtelle says

      Because the law prohibits the sale of eggs in California that are not produced in accordance with the law (X amount of room for the chickens etc.). Missouri is a huge egg exporter and a huge portion of them go to California. So if the law stands, Missouri has to either spend more to produce eggs, or forego the California sales.

      Similar to how the California Air Resources Board rules effectively raised the emissions standards for all auto makers selling in the U.S. There’s not much point in importing or selling a product nationally if it can’t be sold in California.

      The legal fight is about the commerce clause of the Constitution – whether Cali is illegally discriminating against out-of-state businesses.

        • hsawtelle says

          What I’m curious about is how they’ll enforce it. Proving chain of custody from the farm to the market? California inspectors on Missouri farms? I’m sure the bureaucracy will handle this efficiently…

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