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Alabama Joins Agriculture Lawsuit Against California Chicken Cage Law

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange announced Thursday that the state has joined a lawsuit to block California from imposing some of its own agricultural standards on out-of-state producers.

Alabama and at least four other states are looking to prevent California from requiring that only eggs from chickens housed in large, roomy cages be sold in California. The suit was filed by Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster last month.

California voters passed a proposition in 2008 requiring farmers to house chickens on free ranges or in large cages, Strange said. Citing fears that the law would put California farmers at an economic disadvantage, Strange said California added provisions making the law apply to out-of-state producers as well.

Attorneys general from Nebraska and Oklahoma and the governor of Iowa have sued in federal court to declare the law invalid and to stop its enforcement, according to Strange’s office. Those who have joined the suit argue that California’s law applying to out-of-state producers violates the commerce and supremacy clauses of the Constitution and the Federal Egg Products Inspection Act, which is set to be implemented in 2015, Strange said.

“In Alabama, consumers are free to make their own choice of which eggs to buy at their grocery stores, and it is preposterous and quite simply wrong for California to tell Alabama how we must produce eggs,” Strange said in a statement, adding that he doesn’t consider the law an animal welfare issue but an attempt to protect California’s economy by making their laws apply to producers in other states.

Alabama is a major egg producer. The state produced more than 2.1 billion eggs in 2012, according to the USDA.

“If California can get away with this, it won’t be long before the environmentalists in California tell us how we must build cars, grow crops and raise cattle, too,” he said.

Nick Pacilio, a spokesman for California Attorney General Kamala Harris said the Missouri attorney general can’t tell California voters what types of products should be sold in the state.

“If this lawsuit is successful, it will limit the ability of voters in any state to enact laws they deem in their best interest,” Pacilio said in a statement. “We will vigorously defend California law, and hope Missouri and the other states seriously reconsider the wisdom of pursuing this litigation.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

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