It is believed by many that this California law is in direct violation of the United States Constitution’s interstate commerce clause. The Constitution gives the U. S. Congress the exclusive right to regulate commerce that crosses state lines. Originally, the commerce clause was established in part to level the playing field for all states when it comes to selling goods from state to state. Because of Congress’ ability to regulate trade, it was believed that they would step in and stop California’s effort to control the way eggs were produced in other states. In discussions for the just-signed U.S. farm bill, there were ongoing efforts made to address the issue. During the Congressional negotiations over the new farm bill, HSUS funded extremely misleading state ad campaigns against House and Senate members who were trying to block California’s egg law via the farm bill. In the ads, HSUS did not mention the California law, but showed an image of a shopper in a grocery store and warned that a “dangerous federal overreach” was threatening state laws that protected animals and the food supply. Voters were urged to tell their lawmakers to stop this “reckless attack on our states’ rights.” However, Congress opted to not deal with this issue in the bill but to allow the courts to handle it, in order that it would not interfere with moving the huge (and already delayed) farm bill across the finish line.
It is a widely held belief by the farming community that California has exceeded its authority and interfered with Congress’ power to regulate interstate commerce by imposing conditions on farmers from other states who wish to sell eggs in their state. Any state within the United States is free to regulate, or even over-regulate, the producers within their borders, but they do not have the right to control the other forty-nine states, and California should not be allowed to dictate farm production methods to the rest of the country. Some economists believe that this issue has the makings of an internal U.S. trade war. If it starts with eggs, they say, it certainly won’t end with eggs but will extend to other commodities as well. Could Californians someday be telling Missourians how to raise corn or soybeans that would be shipped to their state?
Because of the egg law controversy, Missouri’s Attorney General Chris Koster has filed a federal lawsuit claiming that California’s law can be perceived as an attempt to regulate farming practices outside their state’s borders and could result in a detrimental effect on our state and other Midwest producers. Five other states—Nebraska, Alabama, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Iowa—have joined Missouri in the suit.
This federal lawsuit comes amid complaints about California and its desire to affect agricultural policies beyond its borders. They have approved 358 new farm regulations, and critics of their agriculture policy stated that they over-stepped their bounds and continue to over-step it by attempting to set farm production policy for states other than their own. California says that since the federal government has lagged behind in setting policies, they will take it upon themselves to do it.
Policy-setters in California gave their producers ample time (at least five years) to come into compliance with their new laws, yet this advantage has not been extended to Missouri or other states. These states must be in compliance by January 1, 2015, and at a cost of over $120 million to Missouri producers.
I support Attorney General Koster and the state of Missouri in taking the lead in this federal lawsuit against California and the HSUS. Furthermore, it’s interesting to note the importance of eggs in our diets, as the average American eats 247 eggs each year.