Arkansas won’t join suit challenging California egg rules
State’s attorney general says it wouldn’t be appropriate to join suit, but he may file a friend of the court brief supporting states challenging California rule
Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said he has no interest in joining the Missouri attorney general's federal lawsuit asking the court to declare invalid California statutes that would allow the state to enforce Proposition 2 provisions on all eggs sold in California. However, he is considering filing a friend of the court brief in support of Missouri and the other states that joined the suit.
Missouri filed the lawsuit in February, and since that time Alabama, Iowa, Kentucky, Nebraska and Oklahoma have joined the suit. The lawsuit was brought because the representatives of these states maintain that the California statutes (AB1437 and 3CA ADC) violate the commerce and supremacy clauses of the U.S. Constitution.
McDaniel on March 25 said California's rules do not impact Arkansas egg producers because they already meet the California guidelines, but he agrees that one state should not be able to cause harm to another state's agricultural production, according to reports. Only a small portion of Arkansas eggs are shipped to California, he added.
In the amended lawsuit, the representatives for the six states involved say egg producers face a difficult choice regarding California AB1437:
"Either they can incur massive capital improvement costs to build larger habitats for some or all of their egg-laying hens, or they can walk away from the largest egg market in the country. For example, Missouri farmers - who export one-third of their eggs to California each year - must now decide whether to invest over $120 million in new hen houses or stop selling in California. The first option will raise the cost of eggs in Missouri and make them too expensive to export to any state other than California. The second option will flood Missouri's own markets with a half-billion surplus eggs that would otherwise have been exported to California, causing Missouri prices to fall and potentially forcing some Missouri farmers out of business."
California, the most populous state in the nation, is the largest single egg market in the U.S. According to the lawsuit, Californians consume 9 billion eggs per year, with 4 billion of those eggs coming from other states.
Proposition 2 is scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2015, for all eggs produced in California. California AB1437 was enacted to protect California egg producers from competition from egg producers outside the state who would not have to comply with Proposition 2.