Egging on a lawsuit

States pass laws. That’s what legislatures do. Some states pass laws allowing gay marriage. Some pass laws banning late-term abortions. Some states act to tamp down the black vote. Some states don’t tax military pensions. But when a state tries to regulate agriculture in any way the lawsuit flies into US District Court. Iowa joins states like Missouri, Arkansas and Alabama suing the State of California, which states that cages for chickens must be large enough to flap their wings.

It is seen as an infringement of our God-given right to raise a chicken any way we see fit.

Producers outside of California are aghast because if their chickens are raised in pens too tight the golden oval cannot be sold in The Golden State. They believe it restrains their trade under the Interstate Commerce Clause of the Constitution.

Gov. Terry Branstad, a Republican, is leading the charge against California rules.

Time was when Republicans believed in states’ rights and free markets.

Let the markets decide if California’s rules shall survive. Egg prices will rise in California if it cannot source eggs from Arkansas. Voters in California then might decide that their humane efforts are too costly to sustain.

Of course, being humane doesn’t mean you lose.

Take our friends at Rembrandt Enterprises, Iowa’s largest egg producer.

The company was founded by entrepreneurs Glen Taylor, a rock-solid Republican who was reared on a farm near Mankato, Minn., and Dave Rettig, a Harvard-educated former senior aide to Senators Bob Dole of Kansas and Chuck Grassley of Iowa. Taylor and Rettig are enlightened businessmen.

Here is how Rembrandt Enterprises describes the situation on its website:

“This is an exciting time to be a part of the cage-free egg business, as U.S. production has been increasing at a rapid rate over the last few years. Major restaurant chains continue to publically announce conversion plans over to cage-free eggs. With demand on the rise, Rembrandt Foods continually reviews the market conditions and opportunities.”

The company was founded using the latest technology from Europe. It was always concerned with cage size, and apparently has embraced wholeheartedly sustainable ag production.

Glen Taylor does not trifle with losing propositions, certainly. He must believe that sustainable production cuts costs and helps his company line up with markets.

McDonalds and other major national chains are happy to buy Rembrandt Enterprises’ liquid eggs.

The corporate food purveyors are also down on cramped sow gestation crates. Again, production agriculture through its various fronts such as Farm Bureau, has risen up in protest while the major pork producers — even Smithfield — are moving toward roomier environs for gestation.

This lawsuit is more about pandering to conservative political interests than it is about protecting Iowa egg producers.

Progressive, thriving companies like Rembrandt Enterprises are way ahead of the political class. They are more interested in conserving resources, producing a better egg through a happier hen and giving the consumers what they want: a wholesome food source produced in a responsible way.

Who is Gov. Branstad defending?

And whatever happened to letting states experiment, and allowing markets sort out winners and losers?


And so it went

Crop markets that ran up in price over fears for Ukraine retreated Monday after Russia and Crimea essentially agreed to merge. World leaders are talking as if we were about to enter World War III because Russia took back what it gave to Ukraine in 1954 as a Soviet trinket. The Crimeans overwhelmingly voted for it because they think they can live better under Russia’s flag than Ukraine’s. Remember that Ukraine’s government has been every bit as corrupt as Russia’s, except that it is weaker.

The markets shrugged, as if to say, “Who cares?”

The Muslim minority in Crimea, the Tatars, care. But they do not make grain or gas move to Europe.

The US and Europe imposed sanctions on some select Russians by banning their travel and freezing their assets. But so long as the gas and grain moves the world has no appetite for guns. Crimea is part of Russia for the nearer part of the next century. Let’s get used to it.