California has proposed a law set for 2015 that will regulate more stringent guidelines regarding the treatment of chickens. In order for farmers to qualify for selling eggs, space requirements must be met as well as other conditions such as not confining hens to cages. Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has recently challenged this law and taken his concerns to the federal level.
Koster claims that the newly-proposed law infringes on interstate business operations where California should not be granted the influence to determine how farmers from Missouri operate. "If California legislators are permitted to mandate the size of chicken coops on Missouri farms, they may just as easily demand that Missouri soybeans be harvested by hand or that Missouri corn be transported by solar-powered trucks," Missouri Attorney General Koster said.
Missouri Farm Bureau President Blake Hurst agreed with Koster. "A pretty good tradition in this country that's worked pretty well is that we have free trade among the states, and we would not want to see that changed," Hurst said.
However, there is opposition against Koster's view. Jennifer Fearing, who is the senior state director for the California branch of the Humane Society, articulated another reason behind this recent debate. According to Fearing, "Attorney General Koster's lawsuit targeting California's laws, filed just to curry favor with big agribusiness, threatens state laws across the country dealing with agriculture and food safety."
Bruce Friedrich, who is a senior policy director at Farm Sanctuary, echoed Fearing's sentiments. "It's a real embarrassment for the state of Missouri that Mr. Koster would defend a practice that is horribly abusive of animals with a legal theory that is tilting at windmills."
Concerns relating to agriculture guidelines, the treatment of animals, and interstate business guidelines are all at the center of this developing situation.
Image Via Wikimedia Commons and Courtesy of Biswarup Ganguly