We’ve been warning for quite some time now about the dangers posed to consumer freedom by allowing animal activists to dictate laws. From soda taxes to fat taxes to food regulations galore, the story always ends the same: Activists get a self-righteous high, while consumers get higher prices and fewer choices. And as The Wall Street Journal editorialized yesterday, this is exactly what’s happening in California and could eventually spread to the rest of the country.
This whole kerfuffle began back in 2008 when a ballot initiative supported by the vegan activist Humane Society of the United States and other animal liberation groups mandated that egg-laying hens be housed in significantly larger cages than are required by federal law. Upon realizing such a mandate would likely kill the state’s egg industry by making their costs higher than competitors in other states, the California legislature passed AB 1437 to extend these same standards to any egg sold in the state. In essence, California is trying to tell egg farmers in the other 49 states how to house their hens.
We’ve already seen the immediate impact of similar regulations in Europe, so disrupting egg markets that French egg farmers are literally destroying eggs by the millions in an effort to stabilize prices. More dangerous than roiling American egg markets though, is that this strategy may serve as a road map for future activists: If you can’t get Congress to pass your misguided law, get a friendly state legislature to do it and then apply it to the other 49 states. HSUS and other vegan activists are already trying to do this with maternity pens for pigs, which would drive up pork prices and cause a shortage of bacon.
The good news is that Congress is wising up to these vegan activist schemes. As part of the House version of the Farm Bill, Iowa Rep. Steve King included an amendment that would prevent states like California from regulating the conduct of farmers in the other 49 states. As the Journal concluded, “If California’s liberal imperialists want to impose their social and economic agenda on the rest of the country, they have to go through Congress. Sacramento isn’t the capital of America, thank heavens.”