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Letters: California egg law goes too far

June 14, 2013

Re "An egg fight crosses state lines," June 9

An amendment by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) to the farm bill would not nullify Proposition 2, California's initiative mandating larger cages for hens that applies only to in-state production of eggs.

In 2011, a federal judge blocked California's low-carbon fuel standards from taking effect because the law unconstitutionally tried to regulate activities occurring outside the state, such as producers' choices of farming methods. (The state has appealed that ruling.) California's law demanding that out-of-state egg producers adhere to the state's standards seems like a similar overreach.

Californians have every right to pass misguided ballot measures that put their own egg farms at a competitive disadvantage, but they do not have a right to force those regulations onto out-of-state farmers. The lesson here is that California voters should be more wary of special interest groups abusing the ballot process with emotional appeals.

Will Coggin


The writer is a senior research analyst at the Center for Consumer Freedom, an advocacy group for the food and beverage industry.

I understand the article is about balancing states' rights and the federal regulation of interstate commerce, but what disturbs me is that it barely mentions the heart of the matter: In Proposition 2, Californians acted to alleviate cruelty to animals.

While the article points out that the current industry recommendation for space allotted to each chicken is smaller than a standard piece of paper, its tone makes light (with phrases like "an egg fight" and "lawmakers squawking") of what we ought to take more seriously.

Leaving aside the fact that overcrowding in hens' cages leads them to attack each other and necessitates the use of antibiotics in their feed, which has contributed to the crisis in antibiotic-resistant super bugs, we should care much more than we do about the sentient beings that provide us our food.

Ellen Finkelpearl



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