Iowa bill would require conventional egg availability

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Iowa legislators are considering a bill that would require grocery stores in the state that sell eggs and participate in federal food programs to make conventionally-produced eggs available.

House Study Bill 623, proposed by Iowa House Agriculture Chairman Lee Hein, R-Monticello, does not mandate that grocery stores sell eggs, but it does have stipulations for those that do. The bill states: “A grocery store that is a vendor participating in a federal food program and offering specialty eggs for retail sale shall maintain a regular inventory of conventional eggs for retail sale. The inventory of conventional eggs shall be sufficient to meet the grocery stores’ regular customer demand for such eggs.”

Examples of the federal food programs include the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).

The bill further defines conventional eggs as eggs laid by hens that were not raised under cage-free, free-range or enriched colony systems.

Failure to comply could also mean a fine of up to for each day that a sufficient inventory of conventional eggs is not available.

Exception for stores already not stocking conventional eggs

The bill does have a clause that makes exceptions for stores that are currently not selling conventional eggs. Stores that sell eggs but did not stock conventional eggs prior to January 1, 2018, would not be required to begin doing so.

Status of bill

The bill has received subcommittee approval and has cleared initial review in both the Iowa House and Senate.

The legislation has cleared initial review in both the House and Senate.  It must pass a full committee by the end of the week to remain eligible for consideration in the 2018 Iowa legislature.

Hein, speaking to Radio Iowa, admitted that he had some reservations about imposing such mandates on businesses, but added that Iowa should “not bow down to the pressure of the animal rights goups” that have advocated for elimination of conventionally produced eggs. He also stated that most Iowa consumers would like to be able to choose between conventional or specialty eggs.

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