WASHINGTON – The North American Meat Institute (NAMI) has been joined by 20 other states in challenging the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 12.  The 20 states filed an amicus brief with the US Supreme Court challenging the law.

“The governments of nearly half the states agree,” said Julie Anna Potts, president and chief executive officer of NAMI. “If California is allowed to apply its laws to conduct in other states, a single state will dictate policies in all others, encouraging a patchwork of regulations and threatening the free flow of interstate commerce.”

California residents voted to pass Prop 12 in 2018. The law requires veal calf producers to provide the animals with at least 43 square feet of usable floor space per calf.

The brief was filed by Indiana, joined by Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

“It (Prop 12) freely permits California to impose regulations directly on out-of-state commercial conduct and thereby fosters inconsistent state regulatory obligations and enables tit-for-tat state regulatory conflict,” the states said. “The ultimate result may be transformation of America’s current integrated national market into a patchwork of regulatory regions.”

Late in February 2021, 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 to review an earlier ruling from a lower court.

The association said that the question is whether California can extend its power beyond its borders by banning the sale of wholesome pork and veal products sold into California unless out-of-state farmers change their facilities to meet animal-confinement standards dictated by California.

A NAMI brief asked 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.”

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.