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article imageEgg-producing states take California's egg law to appeals court

By Karen Graham     Mar 9, 2015 in Food
Sacramento - After losing a battle in federal court over the California egg law, six egg-producing states have now filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit , alleging the law will have an adverse economic impact on egg farmers.
Proposition 2, California's egg law that stipulates that fresh, in-the-shell eggs must come from hens housed in roomier cages, went into effect on Jan. 1, 2015. Digital Journal reported on Jan. 18 that Proposition 2 was approved by two-thirds of the voters in 2008. Leveling the playing field, legislators amended the proposition to apply to in-state and out-of-state egg producers, giving egg-producing states fair warning of what was to come.
On October 3, 2014, U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller of Sacramento dismissed a lawsuit filed by six states, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Alabama, Kentucky and Iowa, who challenged the California egg law banning the sale of eggs laid by hens that are kept in cages smaller than those California’s voters mandated for in-state poultry farms in 2008.
The states contended their egg farmers could lose millions of dollars if they had to comply with California Proposition 2 which was passed into law by the state legislature in 2010. Lawyers argued the law was a "protectionist" measure that interfered with interstate commerce. Judge Mueller said the states had no legal standing in the right to sue on behalf of the residents of their states because they were only representing the interests of egg farmers, and not “a substantial segment of their populations.”
In the appeal, and an added amicus brief filed by Utah in support of the plaintiffs, on March 4 with the U.S. Court of Appeals, lawyers for the states claim they have "bulked up" their arguments in challenging the state of California's legal authority to restrict its egg market to egg producers complying with the new law. In an 80-page brief, they cite 56 previous findings of case law supporting their arguments.
In the appeal, the lawyers argue that even though California is among the top five egg-producing states in the country, they are still a net importer of eggs. This is in reference to submitted statistics that show California residents consume about 9 billion eggs annually, but only produce five billion. This has resulted in higher prices for eggs at the retail level. Food Safety News provides an example: "Take restaurant and food service eggs, which are sold in boxes containing 15 dozen eggs. A box of those eggs that went for $8.50 a year ago are now fetching $53."
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