HSUS Prop 2 “Egg” Lawsuit, Bacon+Beef Impact

Our Guess is Prop 2 is a No-Go for 2015

We could be wrong….but…


Five states join Missouri in egg lawsuit

Missouri filed the initial complaint Feb. 3 in U.S. District Court in Fresno, Calif. The complaint seeks to stop implementation of regulations associated with the size of cages for egg laying hens.

Regulations were put in place as a result of California voters in 2008 approving a ballot initiative called Proposition 2. Proposition 2 was sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States, and is viewed by some in agriculture as an effort as another attempt by the organization to harm agriculture.

In addition to these regulations, the California Legislature in 2010 approved legislation (AB 1437) that requires all eggs coming into California for sale to meet the same egg production standards. The states claim the U.S. Constitution doesn’t allow California voters to dictate the business practices of other states’ egg producers. The Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution prevents states from regulating economic activity outside of its borders.

Andrew Hirth, deputy general counsel for the Missouri Attorney General, shared that the amended complaint was filed March 5. Hirth said the next status conference with the Judge is on June 12.

Gary Baise, lawyer at OFW Law, added that the additional states joining the efforts will not increase the pace as to when the court will make a final determination. “The court will decide on the facts and the law, which are on our side,” he said. “The court will move at its own pace unless the states want an expedited schedule.”

Baise shared that the new states signing on to the complaint signifies the importance of the case, “which is good for ag.”

The complaint outlines that egg producers in the states who’ve filed the suit face a difficult choice of either incurring massive capital improvements costs to build larger habitats for some or all of their laying hens, or they can walk away from the largest egg market in the country.

The states involved represent a significant share of U.S. egg production. Iowa is the number one state in egg production, producing over 14.4 billion eggs per year. Approximately 9.1% of those eggs – 1.07 billion eggs per year – are sold in California. They export more eggs to California than any other state, with 30% of eggs imported into California are produced in Iowa.

Another 13% of California’s imports—almost 600 million—come from Missouri and comprise one third of all eggs produced in Missouri annually. The complaint cited that University of California Poultry Specialist Don Bell identifies Alabama, Nebraska, and Kentucky among the states whose eggs account for another 5.6% of total California imports.

Intent of bill

The complaint outlines that Iowa famers have more than 51 million egg-laying hens. Ninety percent of those hens are housed in the same conventional cage-systems currently in use in California and throughout the United States, and 10% are in enhanceable cages. “The cost to Iowa farmers to retrofit existing housing or build new housing that complies with their updated law would be substantial,” the complaint stated.

The suit also lays out that AB 1437’s “true purpose was not to protect public health but rather to protect California farmers from the market effects of Prop 2 by ‘leveling the playing field’ for out of state egg producers.”

In February, Nebraska Department of Agriculture Director Greg Ibach introduced policy at a national meeting of his agriculture department colleagues that recognizes state regulations should not interfere with the free flow of goods between states.

“That is not to say that we shouldn’t be able to create restrictions that protect animal health, for example,” Ibach said. “But the California regulations appear to be more about protecting the market for California farmers.”

There is concern that the California egg production standards create a precedent that would negatively impact Nebraska agriculture, said Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman. “This is about protecting Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers from the potential for regulatory burdens that hamper interstate trade. It’s not only about protecting our egg producers. This is also about the precedent this sets for our beef, swine and dairy producers.”

“We welcome the five states joining our effort,” said Missouri AG Chris Koster. “This case is not just about farming practices. At stake is whether elected officials in one state may regulate the practices of another state’s citizens, who cannot vote them out of office.”

Economic effects http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Proposition_2_(2008)

In July 2008 the University of California, Davis conducted a study through their University of California Agricultural Issues Center (AIC). The study concluded that “the best evidence from a variety of sources suggests that (non-organic) non-cage systems incur costs of production that are at least 20 percent higher than the common cage housing systems”. This is due to higher feed costs, higher hen laying mortality, higher direct housing costs, and higher labor costs. The study also estimated that almost the entire California egg industry would relocate to other states during the 5-year adjustment period. The study does not analyze implications for animal welfare. By demonstrating that most egg producers would leave the state, the report estimates that the initiative would not affect how eggs are produced, only where eggs are produced.[28]

According to a May 2008 study by Promar International and commissioned by opponents to Prop. 2, 95% of the California $648 million egg industry and accompanying economic output would be lost by 2015, including equally significant loss of the three and half thousand jobs the egg industry employs. The study also stated that egg production costs would increase by 76%.[31]

The American Veterinary Medical Association supports greater attention to the behavioral needs of farm animals, but has expressed concern that Proposition 2 is not sufficiently comprehensive to ensure that increases in behavioral freedom don’t translate into increased risks of injury and disease (i.e., a typical welfare tradeoff).[32] Furthermore, although Proposition 2 offers hens additional space, it doesn’t address other behavioral needs such as nesting, foraging, and dust bathing.

Opponents of Prop 2

Californians for SAFE Food is a coalition of companies and associations. Key endorsements as of October 16, 2008 are:

Food Safety & Public Health Experts & Veterinarians (titles and affiliations are used for identification purposes only): Alex Ardans, DVM, Former Director University of California Animal Health & Food Safety Laboratory System , Art Bickford, DVM, Former Associate Director, Turlock, University of California Animal Health & Food Safety Laboratory System, Patricia Blanchard, DVM, Branch Chief, Tulare, University of California Animal Health & Food Safety Laboratory System, Bruce R. Charlton, DVM, PhD, Branch Chief, Turlock, University of California Animal Health & Food Safety Laboratory System, Roy Curtiss III, PhD, Director, Center for Infectious Diseases & Vaccinology, Arizona State University, and Craig Reed, DVM, Former Deputy Administrator, Food Safety & Inspection Service, United States Department of Agriculture among many other experts.

Labor Unions: California Conference Board of the Amalgamated Transit Union, California Teamsters Public Affairs Council, General Teamsters Local Union 386, UNITE HERE, and United Food and Commercial Workers Western States Council.

Newspapers: San Francisco Chronicle, The Los Angeles Times, The Sacramento Bee, The Bakersfield Californian, Orange County Register, The Fresno Bee, The Modesto Bee, Antelope Valley Press, The Press Democrat, Napa Valley Register, Chico Enterprise-Record, Eureka Reporter, Visalia Times-Delta, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Colusa County Sun-Herald, Hollister Free Lance, Redding Record Searchlight, and The Milpitas Post.

Veterinary & Avian/Poultry Organizations: American Veterinary Medical Association,[44] American Association of Avian Pathologists, American College of Poultry Veterinarians, Association of California Veterinarians, Association of Veterinarians in Egg Production, Association of Veterinarians in Turkey Production, California Chapter of American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists, California Food Animal Veterinary Medical Association, California Poultry Federation, Pacific Egg and Poultry Association, and Poultry Science Association.

Latino Organizations: California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, Latino Voters League, Mexican American Political Association, and National Latino Congreso.

African American Organizations & Opinion Leaders: Pastor Amos Brown, Third Baptist Church, The Black American Political Association of California, The California Black Chamber of Commerce, California State Conference of the NAACP, Greater Sacramento Urban League, Los Angeles African American Women’s Political Action Committee, Minority Health Institute, Inc., Oakland NAACP Branch, Sacramento NAACP Branch, Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Los Angeles, Stockton NAACP Branch, Western Regional Council on Educating Black Children, and Youth and College Division of the NAACP.

View a larger list of opponents of at http://www.safecaliforniafood.org/node/20

Another opponent is animal rights philosopher and law professor, Gary Francione.[45][46]

After Proposition 2 passed, California egg farmers were concerned that they would be at a disadvantage when competing against out-of-state egg producers who could underprice them by continuing to practice inhumane treatment of hens. The California egg farmers and animal advocates made common cause to get the legislature to pass a bill to require out-of-state eggs to meet the same requirements that Proposition 2 implemented for in-state eggs. Accordingly, Assemblyman Jared Huffman authored AB 1437[59] The bill passed the legislature and was signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger on July 6, 2010.[60]

Proposition 2 and AB 1437 will both take effect on the same day: January 1, 2015. Thus, the combination of the two laws will prohibit eggs produced in extreme-confinement conditions from being sold in California, no matter where they were produced

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