Nebraska has joined with other states in a lawsuit against California’s egg production standards.
A 2008 ballot initiative sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States regulates the size of crates for egg laying hens. Two years later, the California legislature extended the regulations to all eggs sold in the state, including eggs coming from other states.
Gov. Dave Heineman sees a dangerous precedent.
“If California is allowed to expand their import requirements for eggs what is to stop it from forcing similar requirements for all agricultural imports?” Heineman told reporters during a news conference held at the Governor’s Ag Conference in Kearney. “Our farmers and ranchers cannot afford to act at the whim of California’s voters.”
Missouri initiated the lawsuit by filing a complaint in the federal district court in Fresno, California.
Nebraska is not a major egg-producing state, ranking only 12th nationally. Nebraska, though, is a leading state in the production of processed egg products, used commercially in food service operations.
Nebraska had more than 9 million laying hens in 2012, producing 2.7 billion eggs, generating $180 million in economic activity.
Heineman says the dispute is more evidence that HSUS is not friendly to farmers.
“Attorney General Bruning and I stand with Nebraska’s agricultural producers and we will fight HSUS every step of the way, because they want to destroy agriculture here in Nebraska,” according to Heineman.
Attorney General Jon Bruning says Nebraska has joined the legal fight which objects to California requiring that other states abide by its strict regulations to sell eggs there.
“We join Missouri and other states in challenging California’s law that imposes regulations on the design and size of crates for egg-laying chickens outside of its borders,” Bruning said. “The U.S. Constitution does not allow California to dictate the farming practices of Nebraska farmers and ranchers.”
Others say that extending the regulations to products coming from other states sets a bad precedent for commerce between the states.
Ken Anderson, Brownfield Ag News, contributed to this story.
AUDIO: Gov. Dave Heineman and Attorney Gen. Jon Bruning news conference on egg lawsuit. [5 min.]