Impact of Legislation and Regulation

In recent months, consumers in some states have lost the opportunity to choose the option that is best for their families.

In the 2015 Legislative session, Vermont became the first state in the nation to pass a law requiring all foods made with genetically modified ingredients to be labeled. Beginning in 2016, manufacturers must change their labeling system for all products sold in Vermont, or face stiff penalties, up to $1,000 per day for each individual unlabeled item. Rather than make the costly changes, some manufacturers will choose not to do business in Vermont. Consumers stand to lose those options.

Legislative and regulatory changes in California took effect in 2015, requiring an increase in the size of cages for egg-laying hens in the state. In addition, any eggs sold in California must meet their requirements for larger cage sizes. For low-income consumers in California, the price for traditional eggs, one of their most affordable forms of protein, has gone up dramatically. Consumers who can afford a price increase still have choices; but for some, eggs are no longer an affordable option.

Animal-rights groups are currently in the process of gathering signatures for a ballot measure in Massachusetts that could potentially be on the ballot in November 2016. If passed, the initiative will require veal calves, breeding sows and egg-laying hens in the state to have larger cages. Much like the law in California, the requirements will reach far beyond the state’s borders as any whole eggs and whole uncooked cuts of veal or pork sold in the state must meet the new standards as well. Once again, consumers with limited grocery budgets stand to bear the greatest impact as the traditional, more affordable options will no longer be available.