NEBRASKA JOINS SUIT CHALLENGING CALIFORNIA EGG LAW

Posted 5 months ago

By John Axtell

Eggs -1Nebraska is joining a lawsuit that seeks to strike down a California law regulating the living conditions of chickens. Missouri initiated the legal challenge in federal court, pitting California’s new animal rights law against the economic interests of Midwestern farmers.

The law is the result of voter initiative aimed at California producers, but goes beyond that and prohibits the sale of eggs from hens anywhere raised in cages that don’t comply with its size and space requirements. Governor Dave Heineman says California can’t dictate ag practices in other states.

The California initiative came from the Humane Society of the United States, long condemned by Heineman as an enemy of agriculture, also mandates pen sizes for calves and sows…which Heineman says could lead to even greater impacts on farmers and ranchers in Nebraska and other states.

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Attorney General Jon Bruning says the law violates the interstate commerce clause of the U-S Constitution, which prevents states from regulating economic activity outside of their borders, just as did an earlier California law on ethanol that Nebraska successfully challenged.

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Heineman has in the past told the Humane Society of the U-S to “stay out of Nebraska,” and is repeating the warning now.

Nebraska ranked 12th in the nation in commercial egg production in 2012 with cash receipts of $180-million dollars for 2.7-billion eggs from some 9.2-million hens with cash. The state ranked #1 nationally in the production of processed egg products for commercial food service operations around the world.

Heineman and Bruning announced the state’s involvement in the egg suit yesterday afternoon at the 25th-annual Governor’s Ag Conference in Kearney, which wraps up later today.