The Iowa House has passed a resolution calling for repeal of a California law that forbids the sale of eggs produced by hens kept it cages that don’t meet certain size and space requirements. Representative Helen Miller, a Democrat from Fort Dodge, said that means most Iowa eggs can’t be sold in California.
“That unconstitutionally infringes upon the commerce clause of the Constitution of the United States, to the detriment of this nation’s consumers and farmers,” Miller said Thursday during remarks on the House floor.
Iowa is the nation’s number one egg producing state. In 2013, 15 billion eggs were produced in the state and, according to the Iowa Egg Council, that means “almost one out of every five eggs” produced in the U.S. last year came from Iowa.
“In 2008, California voters approved Proposition 2, a ballot initiative that prohibits California farmers from employing a number of agricultural production methods in widespread use throughout the United States, including the industry standards used in egg production,” Miller said, as she read from the resolution.
The California standard requires egg laying hens — as well as pigs and calves — to be in pens with enough space so the animals can stand up, turn around, lie down and fully extend their limbs. In 2010, California legislators passed a law that bans the sale of eggs in California from any hens that were not raised under those standards. That law takes effect in 2015. About two billion eggs were sold in California last year and Representative Pat Grassley, a Republican from New Hartford who is a farmer, said the California law will hurt Californians.
“The effect of California’s legislation is to increase consumer prices, create financial hardship on low-income families and deny egg farmers the right to access the nation’s market,” Grassley said, reading from the resolution.
Iowa is one of a handful of states that have sued to try to get a federal court to declare the California law unconstitutional. The resolution that passed the Iowa House Thursday calls on congress to act on the issue as well.