Lawsuit Filed Against Arizona Over Requirement for Cage-Free Eggs

Restaurateur Challenges Arizona Cage-Free Egg Mandate in Court

A legal complaint was filed recently by Union LLC against the Arizona Department of Agriculture (AZDA), challenging the state’s mandate to require all chicken eggs and egg products sold to come from hens that were housed in a cage-free manner. The regulation, set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2025, has led Grant Krueger, a restaurateur with a multi-restaurant business in Arizona, to sue the state agency to block the mandate.

Trailing behind nine other states, including Colorado, Michigan, Oregon, and California, Arizona became the 10th state in the US to proclaim the prohibition of eggs from caged chickens, according to the Humane League. Smaller egg producers with fewer than 20,000 egg-laying hens are exempt from this regulation.

Krueger’s lawsuit follows a U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding a similar law in California that bans the sale of pork from hogs unless they are raised in a space exceeding industry norms. Legal experts view this case, National Pork Producers Council v. Ross, as having broad implications beyond agriculture law, extending to state-level energy and climate regulations under the U.S. Constitution.

Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) and the Goldwater Institute filed the current lawsuit on behalf of restaurateur Grant Krueger, highlighting that cage-free eggs are more expensive to produce than conventionally raised eggs. Krueger brings a wealth of experience in the restaurant business from his 34 years in the industry, having worked his way up from a dishwasher and busboy to owning restaurants through the Union Hospitality Group, which he founded in 2010.

The Arizona Department of Agriculture (AZDA) estimates that the new rule could add between one to 3.25 cents to the price of an egg, translating to an increase of approximately $2.71 to $8.79 per year for each person in the state.

The lawsuit quotes that AZDA considers the cage-free egg rule necessary to address the public’s growing concerns about animal welfare and to represent the best management practices in the egg industry that ensure the production of high-quality, cruelty-free eggs. However, further validating concerns, the restaurant industry typically operates on tight profit margins with around 95 percent of earnings going back into paying for food, employee wages, insurance, and utilities.

PLF attorney Josh Robbins highlighted that the way the cage-free egg regulation was created makes it constitutionally suspect since the Arizona Legislature delegated to AZDA the power to legislate over poultry husbandry, an authority that lies with the legislature according to the state’s constitution.

The legal complaint cites that the rule was created after Arizona egg producers and industry groups lobbied AZDA, as they were directed to the agency when lobbying for legislation mandating cage-free housing of egg-laying hens. Subsequently, AZDA promulgated the rule itself without any further input from the Arizona Legislature, which, according to the complaint, was an impermissible process.

Mr. Robbins expressed optimism about the case and conveyed confidence in their arguments. The Epoch Times reached out to Paul Brierly, director of the Arizona Department of Agriculture, but received no comment at the time of reaching out.

In conclusion, the lawsuit by Krueger against the state’s mandate to require cage-free eggs for sale in Arizona has caught the attention of legal experts and industry stakeholders, with implications that stretch beyond the egg and poultry industry. The case serves as a momentous legal challenge with potential far-reaching effects on state-level regulations in the future.


Hot News