Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster is crying "fowl" over a California egg law, who filed a federal lawsuit that claims the statue's regulations on living conditions for chickens could have a detrimental effect on Midwestern farmers.
California's law, slated to be instated in 2015, will prohibit eggs from being sold in the state if they come from hens raised in cages that do not comply with the state's new size and space requirements, according to the Associated Press.
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Koster claims that the California law infringes on the interstate commerce protections of the U.S. Constitution, as it imposes regulations on farmers in other states.
"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.
The Humane Society of the United States, which campaigned for the 2008 California ballot initiative that put the egg law in place, told the Associated Press that the law protects the state's residents. The society's California senior director Jennifer Fearing said that eggs produced from hens in what she called "battery cages" have higher risk of salmonella contamination.
"Attorney General Koster's lawsuit targeting California's laws, filed just to curry favor with big agribusiness, threatens state laws across the country dealing with agriculture and food safety," Fearing said.
What's at stake in the lawsuit is the 540 million eggs Missouri farmers provide for its clients in California annually, according to the Kansas City Star. T
he California market accounts for nine billion eggs sold each year, and the state provides six percent of those eggs.
California voters gave a thumbs up to a 2008 ballot initiative requiring that egg-laying hens, pigs and calves are raised with enough space so the animals can lie down, stand up, turn around and fully extend their limbs.
California legislators in 2010 expanded the law to ban the sale of eggs from any hens that were not raised in compliance with California's animal care standards, fearing that California farmers will be at a disadvantage considering the initiative, according to the Associated Press.
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