According to a news source, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) and the attorneys general (AGs) of Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Alabama, and Kentucky have filed a notice that they will appeal a district court dismissal of their challenge to a California law that allegedly forces egg producers in other states to comply with a voter-approved ballot measure that bans the sale of eggs which have been produced by hens in conventional cages. Missouri ex rel. Koster v. Harris, No. 14-17111 (9th Cir., notice of appeal filed October 24, 2014). Information about a related complaint appears in Issue 512 of this Update.
The district court apparently dismissed the complaint in early October on the ground that the officials lack standing to bring the lawsuit because California’s law affects only a subset of farmers who plan not to comply with it. Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster claims that the state’s farmers, who export some one-third of their eggs to California, must decide whether to invest in excess of $120 million to comply with the law, which requires larger cages for hens, or cease selling their products in the nation’s largest egg market. Some states are reportedly following California’s lead—Michigan, Oregon and Washington have passed similar laws requiring more space for egglaying hens, while Ohio has banned construction of new conventional cages, known as “battery” cages. Ninety-five percent of eggs in the United States are apparently produced in battery cages, which practice is opposed by animalrights organizations that are also involved in the litigation. See Stateline.org, November 9, 2014.