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Missouri ruffles feathers over California’s pro-chicken egg laws




Natural eggs from chickens are seen for sale at a local Farmers Market in Annandale, Virginia, August 8, 2013.
Natural eggs from chickens are seen for sale at a local Farmers Market in Annandale, Virginia, August 8, 2013.
PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images

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Should states be required to meet California's strict animal welfare standards in order to sell their products in the state?

That's the basis of the lawsuit filed by Missouri's attorney general, which alleges that a California's law requiring chickens to be kept in cages much larger than the nation's standard 'factory' size cage effectively bans their eggs from the state.

In 2008, California voters passed a  ballot initiative requiring all  egg producers house their chickens in cages large enough for them to spread their wings. Two years later the state adjusted that law to require all eggs sold in the state to come from farms that meet California's requirements - even if the eggs were produced across state lines.

Missouri, which sells a third of its  1.7 billion eggs to California every year, says the law violates the constitution's commerce clause and that they weren't given enough time to comply. Estimates show that upgrading to the more chicken-friendly cages would cost Missouri egg producers $120 million and raise production costs by 20 percent.

Does California's egg law violate the commerce clause? Should out of state producers be held to California's higher standards? How will that impact both the economies of California and the heartland where the state gets much of its food?

Guests: 

Baylen Linnekin, attorney and executive director of Keep Food Legal, a non-profit that advocates for food freedom

Bruce Friedrich, senior policy director of Farm Sanctuary