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North Dakota joins fight against laws imposing animal production standards

BISMARCK, N.D. – North Dakota has joined 12 other states in asking the U.S. Supreme Court to block laws in California requiring any eggs sold there to be from hens with specific space requirements in their cages.

The lawsuit, filed by Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, alleges that the California law violates the U.S. Constitution’s interstate commerce clause and is pre-empted by federal law. Other states joining in the suit are Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin.                         

North Dakota has also joined another suit filed in U.S. Supreme Court against Massachusetts, which passed a ballot measure banning the sale of pork, veal and eggs produced under confinement. That suit, filed by Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill, is also based on the U.S. Constitution’s interstate commerce clause. Other states joining that suit are Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

The laws would force producers across the country to comply or completely forego any sales in California or Massachusetts, or sales to national distributors that may resell products in those two states.

“California and Massachusetts are trying to regulate outside of their borders by imposing their standards on agricultural production in other states,” Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring said. “If laws like this are enforced, it will drive up costs for producers and increase food costs for consumers.”

The Humane Society of the United States was a major backer of both ballot initiatives, spending over $4 million in California and over $2 million in Massachusetts.

“Animal activist groups like HSUS are turning to the ballot to get laws passed in line with their ideology, which includes ending animal agriculture,” Goehring said.

The Massachusetts law is scheduled to go into effect in 2022, while the California law has been in effect since 2015.