Missouri SB 795 wants to license egg retailers. No, seriously

I received an email from the Missouri Rural Crisis Center earlier today detailing their opposition to SB 795, a bill in committee right now that will probably see floor time today or tomorrow. The bill itself is long and contains a variety of provisions of very questionable merit, particularly a requirement to license:

All persons engaged in buying, selling, trading or trafficking in, or processing eggs, except those listed in section 196.313, shall be required to be licensed under sections 196.311 to 196.361.  Such persons shall file an annual application for such license on forms to be prescribed by the director, and shall obtain an annual license for each separate place of business from the director.

The bill lists specific licensing requirements for egg ‘retailers’, ‘dealers’, and ‘processors’, along with a fee schedule that begins at $5 for egg ‘retailers’ selling fewer than 25 cases of eggs a week and tops out at $100 for egg ‘processors’ moving more than 1000 cases of eggs a day.

Licensing requirements are a good way for established firms to restrict the amount of competition they have; enacting legal requirements to pay a fee and obtain a license in order to sell even small quantities of eggs has a crushing effect on the ability of very small producers to compete in the market for eggs. Under this law it appears that it is now illegal to sell eggs from your backyard chicken coop to your neighbor without a license, a requirement that is unenforceably broad. The money raised will go into an ‘agriculture protection fund’ which sounds more like a giveaway to large agribusiness than anything else.

There are some places where licensing requirements protect consumers but here these requirements mean that consumers will end up paying more money for fewer eggs for no real reason.

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