Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster sued California to stop new standards for the treatment of hens, including those that produce eggs in other states that are shipped to California.
The California market consumes 9 billion eggs a year. Of that, Missouri hens contribute roughly 6 percent, or 540 million, Koster says. The new rules are set to take effect in January 2015.
If Missouri producers don’t comply — essentially betting Koster wins the suit — the attorney general said the state will end up with a half billion surplus eggs on its hands, “causing Missouri prices to fall and potentially forcing some Missouri farmers out of business.”
At issue is how much room a hen has to move around in its cage. Koster says current cages allow hens about 67 square inches of space per bird. Animal behavior experts have estimated the law may require anywhere from 87.3 square inches to 403 square inches per bird. The Missouri attorney general says California is trying to regulate farming practices nationwide, which he says is a violation of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.