Christmas Comes from Purdue Affidavit

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State Attorneys General Curtis Hill, IN, Josh Hawley, MO, Leslie Rutledge, AK, Wayne Stenehjem ND, Sean Reyes UT, and many others have filed Bills of Complaint against California and Massachusetts in the United States Supreme Court in an effort to defend agriculture. (What a Christmas present!)

Purdue University, through Jayson Lusk, delivers a large Christmas present for all engaged in animal agriculture. Dr. Lusk and a colleague, Dr. Conner Mullally, published a paper on September 13, 2017. Lusk relies on this peer-reviewed report to help animal agriculture in the U.S. Supreme Court.

The affidavit filed by Dr. Lusk is based on a report entitled The Impact of Farm Animal Housing Restrictions on Egg Prices, Consumer Welfare, and Production in California. It explains what happened in California as a result of its enactment of Proposition 2. It declared “…that as a result of passing the law, farm animals would have sufficient room for lying down, standing up, and fully extending their limbs; and turning around freely.”

Lusk reviews his previous research of the California law on egg production, costs, and the impact on consumer prices for eggs. His research demonstrates California’s Animal Welfare Law created significant impacts on farmers because they reduced the size of their flocks enormously. In his affidavit, Lusk declares “[i]n the thirty-four months covered by our forecasts, the number of egg-laying hens in California was reduced by an average of 4.4 million birds each month relative to what would have been observed in the absence of the [California] AW laws.”

The explanation is due to higher production costs because farmers determined the increased costs would not be offset by increasing prices to consumers i.e. consumers will not pay higher prices for cage free eggs! Therefore, the only way to bring costs into line for the consumer was an enormous cutting of flocks by approximately 26% each month.
Apparently farmers in California started reducing expenditures on building new facilities almost immediately after passage of the California law. Lusk claims “Twenty months after the implementation of the [California] AW laws, the number of egg-laying hens and total egg production in California had each fallen by about 35% because of the policy.”

(This article first ran in Farm Futures on December 18, 2017)

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About Gary Baise

Gary H. Baise is an Illinois farmer and trial attorney at the law firm Olsson Frank Weeda Terman Bode Matz PC. Specializing in agricultural and environmental issues, he also serves as outside General Counsel for the U.S. Grains Council, Agricultural Retailers Association, and National Sorghum Producers.
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