States Claim California Violating Commerce Clause with Egg Law

Iowa legislators are battling at the state and federal level against California’s egg law, saying it violates the Commerce Clause of the Constitution and put undue hardship on farmers in other states.


A law takes effect next year in California that forbids the sale of eggs from farms where the cages don’t meet certain humane size requirements, where a hen has enough room to stand up, lie down, turn around, and fully extend its wings.

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) tried to introduce a provision in the Farm Bill declaring the law unconstitutional, but it was stripped from the final version.

The Iowa House passed a resolution this week calling for California to repeal the law, noting one out of every five eggs in the U.S. is produced in Iowa and arguing it would raise prices for Californians.

“I appreciate the bipartisan effort of the Iowa House in taking another step forward in ensuring we protect both Iowa and American famers and producers, including egg producers, from California’s unconstitutional overreach,” King said in a statement. “The resolution stems from my amendment to the Farm Bill (Protect Interstate Commerce Act, PICA), that was adopted by the United States House of Representatives, but was not included in the final version of the Farm Bill. This was due to the aggressive Vegan Lobby’s – the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), nationwide misinformation campaign against my amendment.”

“Taken together, my work on the Farm Bill, Governor Branstad’s work in joining the multi-state lawsuit over this issue, and today, the Iowa House’s work in condemning California’s actions, Iowans have led the fight against this unconstitutional law. Working together we can restore the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.”


Six states — Alabama, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Iowa — have taken California to court over the law, which the Humane Society has vowed to defend. The HSUS says more than 90 percent of American egg-laying hens are currently confined in barren battery cages, “which are cruel and are breeding grounds for Salmonella.”

“It’s just not appropriate to jam six or eight birds in tiny spaces so they cannot move,” said Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president and chief counsel for animal protection litigation at Humane Society. “These states are trying to force their sub-standard eggs on California consumers, even though the California legislature has declared such eggs to be repugnant to the state’s values and a threat to public health.”

The HSUS also points out that the original ballot initiative passed in 2008, giving factory farms several years to bring cages up to standards.


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