Regulating a Whole Bunch of Hens and Eggs

People and disputes. They go together pretty much like bacon and eggs. But only if the eggs in question come from hens that have space to stretch out in their cages—that according to a California law currently being challenged by more than a dozen states in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. (you’ve seen ‘em, long robes and all…)

In a lawsuit filed directly to the high court, the states allege that California’s law has cost consumers nationwide up to $350 million annually because of higher egg prices since it took effect in 2015. The lawsuit argues that California’s requirements violate the U.S. Constitution’s interstate commerce clause and are pre-empted by federal law.

A federal appeals court panel rejected similar claims last year in a separate case brought by six states, ruling that they failed to show California’s law would affect more than just individual farmers. The latest lawsuit seeks to address that by citing an economic analysis of the California law. It also asks the Supreme Court to take up the case directly instead of requiring that it first move through the lower courts. The California attorney general’s office said Monday that it was reviewing the lawsuit.

California produced about 5 billion eggs and imported an additional 4 billion from other states in 2012, according to the lawsuit. Thirty percent of those out-of-state eggs came from Iowa, the nation’s top egg producer. About 13 percent of California’s egg imports came from Missouri, the second highest percentage cited in the lawsuit.

The number of eggs produced in California dropped to 3.5 billion last year despite rising nationally, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Missouri’s egg production was up 60 percent since 2012 to 3.2 billion last year.

So which came first, the dispute or the lawsuit (and millions of dollars spent regulating and dealing with stuff) just so people can eat a good breakfast? Perhaps a nationwide switch to muffins or biscuits and gravy would just be simpler? Of course, you just know someone from the muffin or biscuit lobby will find a dispute in there somewhere.

Hey, disputes happen just as sure as chickens lay eggs. And when they hit YOUR business, be sure you have a sunny-side-up seasoned litigator at the table who will work to resolve YOUR matter with YOUR best interests in mind.

More on this case:

13 states launch new legal challenge to California egg law