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California egg law: Humane regulations threatens another state

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A California egg law has caused Missouri's attorney general to get the federal court involved. ABC News reports Feb. 5 that Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has filed a lawsuit to fight a 2015 regulation in California that eggs cannot be sold within the state if hens have been raised in cages. The state has put higher mandates on the humane conditions of chickens by giving them more space to live in.

Koster's concern is that the California egg law is "setting up a cross-country battle that pits new animal protections against the economic interests of Midwestern farmers." He said that the new law imposes "new requirements on out-of-state farmers."

This is what Koster had to say about the egg regulations in California:

"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's lawsuit was filed in Fresno, Calif. Monday at the U.S. District Court.

The Humane Society of the United States pushed the ballot. They say that states have the right to pass laws they see fit for their residents when it comes to health and safety. Human Society Senior State Director for California, Jennifer Fearing, said hens laying eggs in "battery cages" have more risk for 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.

In 2008 voters in California passed a ballot that demanded chickens, pigs, and cattle have enough room to lay down, stand, and move around freely. Farmers have until 2015 to meet new state standards.

As of now, Missouri's hens are crammed in smaller cages and they would not meet California's standards. The state produces about 1.7 billion eggs a year and sell one-third of them. Missouri is reportedly the second-largest egg exporter to California after Iowa.

Koster said with the California egg law, it would translate to Missouri needing to spending around $120 million to "remodel their cages or forgo sales to one of their most important markets, which could force some Missouri egg producers out of business."

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