Tuesday, November 04, 2014

States fighting California's ban on eggs from hens kept in cramped cages; say conforming too costly

Five states—Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Alabama and Kentucky—are challenging a California ban on the sale of eggs from hens kept in cramped cages, Marsha Mercer reports for Stateline. The states "filed a notice Oct. 24 that they will appeal a U.S. district court’s dismissal of their case. They had argued that the law forces farmers in other states to make costly changes in their operations and violates the U.S. Constitution."

"In 2008, California voters approved a ballot initiative prohibiting the state’s farmers from confining hens in a way that prevents them from turning around freely, lying down, standing up and fully extending their limbs," Mercer writes. "Two years later, California lawmakers banned the sale of eggs—from any state—that have been produced by hens in conventional or 'battery' cages."

"Battery cages provide each hen an average of only 67 square inches of floor space, smaller than an 8x10 sheet of paper," Mercer writes. "The 2010 law, which goes into effect Jan.1, cites the increased risk of salmonella from birds in large flocks in confined spaces." 

About 95 percent of U.S. eggs are produced in battery cages, Mercer writes. States argue that complying with the ban would be costly—Missouri would need to spend more than $120 million for new henhouses to comply with California's law—and that consumers should be free to make their own decisions on what eggs to buy. Critics also say the ban will increase egg costs for consumers. (Read more)

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