Judge dismisses case against California hen housing law

Judge dismisses case against California hen housing law

By Rita Jane Gabbett on 10/3/2014

United States District Court for the Eastern District of California Judge Kimberly Mueller has dismissed a case by six farm states against California law that takes effect January 2015 prohibiting the sale of eggs from hens not housed according to new California housing standards.

Mueller ruled the plaintiffs representing the states of Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Alabama, Kentucky and Iowa did not have standing to file their case.

The court’s ruling was accompanied by the entry of final judgment in favor of the State of California, The Humane Society of the United States, and the Association of California Egg Farmers.

The plaintiffs had challenged the legislation as unconstitutional, saying it violates the commerce and supremacy clauses of the United States Constitution. They argued that egg producers from the six states have no representatives in California’s legislature and no voice in determining California’s agricultural policy, yet they would have to either incur massive capital improvement costs to build larger habitats for some or all of their egg-laying hens, or walk away from the largest egg market in the country.

“After carefully considering the parties’ papers and arguments, defendants’ motions to dismiss are GRANTED for lack of standing, without leave to amend,” Judge Mueller wrote.

“Prop 2” was passed in 2008 as a law aimed at prohibiting the cruel confinement of farm animals within California. Starting in 2015, Prop 2 prohibits California egg producers from housing egg-laying hens in enclosures that prevent them from standing, lying down, turning around and fully extending their limbs.

In 2010, the California Legislature passed a law requiring out-of-state egg farmers selling eggs in California to comply with the same requirements set forth in Prop 2, so California growers would not be at a competitive disadvantage due to the cost of complying with the law by building new housing systems.