Branstad seeks to protect Iowa’s egg industry

Egg production is hugely important to the agricultural economy in the Hawkeye State. Iowa leads the nation in egg production with an annual output of more than 14.4 billion eggs.

According to information released by the governor’s office on March 6, one of the largest markets for those eggs is California. Iowa producers sell just over 1 billion eggs each year in that state. That’s about 9.1 percent of the eggs our state markets.

Consequently, a California law that would make it impossible to sell many Iowa-produced eggs in that state unless major changes are made to the habitats occupied by hens is potentially very bad news.

That’s why Gov. Branstad has joined with five other states in attempting to get federal courts to declare the California law unconstitutional. The states backing the lawsuit are Alabama, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma.

“The burdensome law from the State of California effectively regulates the industry across state lines, hurts Iowa agriculture and is detrimental to Iowa egg producers,” Branstad said in a statement issued last month announcing his participation in the law suit. “This law is an unwarranted burden being imposed on Iowa’s producers by another state and violates the interstate commerce clause of the United States Constitution.”

The Iowa egg industry contributes to the state’s economy $2 billion in total sales each year, according to a statement released by the governor’s office. Some 8,000 jobs now held by Hawkeye State residents are potentially affected by harm to that sector of the state’s agricultural economy.

The Messenger applauds Branstad’s decision to assist in this important effort to rein in California’s overreach.

Whether or not the changes in habitat for hens California lawmakers are seeking have merit, attempting to impose that state’s will on other states is unacceptable.

In supporting the governor’s action, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey captured the basic issue succinctly.

“California’s effort to unconstitutionally limit the ability of Iowa farmers to access California’s consumers must be stopped,” Northey said.

This newspaper heartily agrees.