WASHINGTON – On Feb. 26, the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) filed a petition for a writ of certiorari – a type of writ by which an appellate court decides to review a case at its discretion – asking the Supreme Court of the United States to review an earlier ruling of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in the Meat Institute’s challenge to the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 12: The Farm Animal Confinement Initiative (Prop 12). NAMI believes the law is unconstitutional and opposes it, citing it will hurt the nation’s food value chain through increased costs to producers and consumers.
California residents voted to pass Prop 12 in 2018. The law requires veal calf producers provide the animals with at least 43 square feet of usable floor space per calf. Beginning in 2022, sows will need a minimum of 24 square feet of usable space per animal and laying hens will be cage-free. Prop 12 builds on Proposition 2, approved in 2008, which mandates cages for egg-laying hens must be large enough for the birds to stand up, lie down and extend their wings. Meat, poultry and eggs not produced under these standards cannot be sold in California.
“Prop 12 hurts the family on a budget by causing higher prices for pork, veal and eggs, and unfairly punishes livestock producers outside of California by forcing them to spend millions just to access California markets,” said Julie Anna Potts, NAMI president and chief executive officer. “If this unconstitutional law is allowed to stand, California will dictate farming practices across the nation.”
NAMI questions whether the US Constitution permits California to enforce laws beyond its borders through banning the sale of wholesome pork and veal products sold into California unless out-of-state farmers restructure their facilities to meet animal-confinement standards dictated by California.
A NAMI brief urged the US Supreme Court to review the decision and stated, “Ninth Circuit’s decision conflicts with the decisions of other federal courts of appeals on the question whether the Constitution limits a State’s ability to extend its police power beyond its territorial borders through a trade barrier dictating production standards in other States and countries and insulates in-state farmers from out-of-state competition, while imposing crushing burdens on out-of-state farmers and producers who have no political voice to shape the regulations that California has unilaterally determined to foist upon their operations outside of California.”
The US Department of Agriculture, 20 sovereign states, the National Association of Manufacturers, Chamber of Commerce, and Food Marketing Institute supported NAMI’s lawsuit in the Ninth Circuit through amicus curiae (a professional person or organization that is not a party to a particular litigation but that is permitted by the court to advise it in respect to some matter of law that directly affects the case in question) briefs.