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Thursday March 22, 2018

Nebraska joined a list of 11 other states in early December pledging to back Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley's renewed bid to sue California before the Supreme Court over that state's cage-free egg requirements.

Hawley's complaint argues that California law, which began as ballot initiative Proposition 2 and eventually took effect in 2015, violates the portion of the U.S. Constitution that forbids one state from restricting commerce between that state's citizens and another state's.

The lawsuit contends that although California Prop 2 may have began with the intent of improving the welfare of egg-laying hens and protecting public health by requiring California farmers to provide birds with larger and more stimulating cages, it quickly turned into little more than trade protectionism. After restricting its own farmers to a more costly production system, his suit says, California quickly discovered the economic reality that eggs from other states would begin flowing in to meet the demand for cheaper eggs. California's Assembly Bill 1437, passed in 2010, thus sought to extend the regulation to producers outside California in order to "level the playing field."

"Because Proposition 2 had already imposed these restrictions on California producers, the sole purpose and effect of AB 1437 was to regulate the conduct of non-California egg producers," which, Hawley argues, is not permitted under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.

The lawsuit also argues that since California's law took effect in 2015, it has cost consumers nationwide up to $350 million annually because of higher egg prices.

A federal appeals court panel rejected similar claims last year in a separate case brought by six states, ruling that they failed to show California's law would affect more than just individual farmers. Missouri's latest lawsuit seeks to address that by citing an economic analysis of the California law showing the cost burden is widespread. Other plaintiff states are Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Utah and Wisconsin. 

California produced about 5 billion eggs and imported an additional 4 billion from other states in 2012, according to the lawsuit. Of those out-of-state eggs, 30 percent came from Iowa, the nation's top egg producer. About 13 percent came from Missouri, the second-highest percentage cited in the lawsuit.

As a direct result of AB 1437, egg farmers in other states have incurred and will incur costs that are between $228 million and $912 million to comply with AB 1437, based on conservative assumptions, Hawley argues. These costs will be passed on to consumers, increasing prices nationwide by as much as 1.73 percent to 5.12 percent.

California's original Prop 2...

  • Requires that calves raised for veal, egg-laying hens and pregnant pigs be confined only in ways that allow these animals to lie down, stand up, fully extend their limbs and turn around freely.
  • Grants exception for transportation, rodeos, fairs, 4-H programs, lawful slaughter, research and veterinary purposes.
  • Provides misdemeanor penalties, including a fine not to exceed $1,000 and/or imprisonment in jail for up to 180 days.


In patnership with the Nebraska Grocery Industry Association

The Nebraska Grocery Industry Association was formed in 1903 by a group of Omaha grocery store owners, wholesalers and vendors to allow them to promote independent food merchants and members of the food industry, and to promote education and cooperation among its membership. NGIA continues to represent grocery store owners and operators, along with wholesalers and vendors located throughout Nebraska, by promoting their success through proactive government relations, innovative solutions and quality services. NGIA offers efficient and economical programs. NGIA also lobbies on both a state and national level, ensuring that the voice of the food industry in Nebraska is heard by our representatives.

Supported by the Nebraska Farm Bureau

The farm and ranch families represented by Nebraska Farm Bureau are proud sponsors of the Farmer Goes to Market program. We take great pride in supporting Nebraska's agricultural foundation. A key part of that effort is to make sure we produce safe and affordable food. This newsletter is an important part of our effort to connect the two most important parts of the food chain -- the farmer and the grocer -- with the goal of increasing consumer awareness and information about how their food is raised in Nebraska.

Supported by the Nebraska Corn Board

The Nebraska Corn Board, on behalf of 23,000 corn farmers in Nebraska, invests in market development, research, promotion and education of corn and value-added products. The board aims to work closely with the farmer-to-consumer food chain, to educate everyone about the role corn has in our everyday healthy lives. The Nebraska Corn Board is proud to sponsor the Farmer Goes to Market program to help bring its mission of expanding demand and value of Nebraska corn to the consumer, through the strongest touch point in that chain: the Nebraska retail grocer.

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