Why States Are Taking Other States to Court Over Eggs

by | December 13, 2017

By Phil Demers

Thirteen states have filed suit against Massachusetts in response to a law mandating certain humane practices in food production.

Known informally as the Massachusetts egg law and set to go into full effect in 2022, the law requires that anyone selling produce in the state to have provided their production animals space to lie down, stand up, fully extend their limbs and turning around freely.

In the 2016 Election, nearly 80 percent of state voters -- more than 2.5 million people total -- supported the proposal, drafted as a citizen's referendum the group Citizens for Farm Animal Protection.

The lawsuit deems Massachusetts referendum unlawful because it attempts to "dictate how other states choose to regulate business operations and manufacturing processes within their own borders," according to Indiana Attorney General Curtis T. Hill Jr.

The lawsuit accuses Massachusetts of "economic protectionism and extraterritorial regulation that violates the Commerce Clause" of the U.S. Constitution, saying residents of different states will be made to "submit to Massachusetts' laws."

According to The Humane Society, most laying hens now spend their lives confined to a cages providing no more space than an 8" by 11" sheet of printer paper -- not even enough room to spread their wings.

California passed a similar law in 2015 and has also faced joint lawsuits filed by other states which have so far failed to reverse it.

The new attempt to reverse the law in Massachusetts, like the so far failed attempts to rollback California's, have rested crucially on saying these laws increase costs to consumers.

California's production of eggs fell from 5 billion in 2012 to 3.5 billion last year in connection with the state's egg law.

The plaintiff states in the Massachusetts lawsuit, in addition to Indiana, include the Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

(c)2017 MassLive.com, Springfield, Mass.