Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster announced Thursday that five states have joined Missouri in its suit against the state of California, alleging that California is unconstitutionally attempting to regulate farming practices beyond its borders.
The states joining Missouri's suit are Nebraska, Alabama, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Iowa – the largest producer of eggs in the United States. Together with Missouri, these states produce more than 20 billion eggs per year, 10% of which are sold to California consumers, a statement from Koster's office said.
In 2008, California voters approved a ballot initiative that would regulate the size of egg-laying hens' housing, effective in 2015. To avoid any potential competitive disadvantage to California's egg producers, the California State Assembly passed legislation in 2010 requiring egg producers in other states to comply with Proposition 2 in order to sell eggs in California.
The six states are now asking the federal court to rule that California's legislation violates the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution.
The Commerce Clause, Koster's statement clarified, prohibits any state from enacting legislation that regulates conduct wholly outside its borders, protects its own citizens from out-of-state competition, or places undue burdens on interstate commerce.
"We welcome the five states joining our effort," Koster said in the statement. "This case is not just about farming practices. At stake is whether elected officials in one state may regulate the practices of another state's citizens, who cannot vote them out of office."
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Missouri initially announced the suit in January, bringing forward implications the law would have on costs for producers and consumers. Koster estimated then that the changes producers would have to undertake to comply with California standards would result in "incurring as much as 20% in additional production cost and dramatically increasing the price of eggs."
"I don't believe voters in California should be able to set agriculture policy for Missouri," Koster said back in January. "The production practices of Missouri farmers and the regulation of Missouri farmland is Missouri's prerogative."