WASHINGTON– The meat industry is trying once again to get the US Supreme Court involved in California’s Proposition 12.

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) announced plans on Sept. 27 to petition the court to hear their case against the animal confinement law that goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2022. 

In June, the Supreme Court denied a petition from the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) regarding its challenge to Prop 12. 

“We’re asking the Supreme Court to consider the constitutionality of one state imposing regulations that reach far outside its borders and stifle interstate and international commerce,” said Jen Sorenson, president of the NPPC. “In this case, arbitrary animal housing standards that lack any scientific, technical or agricultural basis and that will only inflict harm on US hog farmers.”

This latest appeal to the highest court in the land started after the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit back in July, which upheld a lower court decision that ruled against the case presented by NPPC and AFBF. 

The two associations and the lower court are arguing that that Prop. 12 “will have dramatic upstream effects and require pervasive changes to the pork industry nationwide.” However, Ninth Circuit precedent won’t allow the case to continue. NPPC explained that precedent runs counter to numerous Supreme Court decisions and is in conflict with nearly every other federal circuit court.

NPPC said the Commerce Clause grants Congress the power to regulate trade among the states and restricts states from regulating commerce outside their borders, except for matters related to public health and safety.

“Supporters of Proposition 12 claimed it would improve animal welfare and food safety. The law fails to address either of those issues,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “Farmers know the best way to care for their animals. This law takes away the flexibility to ensure hogs are raised in a safe environment while driving up the cost of providing food for America’s families. Small family farms well beyond California’s borders will be hit hardest as they are forced to make expensive and unnecessary changes to their operations.”

Duvall said this will lead to more consolidation in the pork industry and higher prices at the grocery store.  

Proposition 12 creates minimum requirements for confinement of laying hens, breeding pigs and veal calves. The law also prohibits the sale in California of all products from animals not raised in compliance with the new rules, regardless of their origin. The legislation is limited to uncooked commodity pork such as cured, preserved or flavored. It does not include cooked products. California residents voted to pass Proposition 12 in 2018. 

For more details on Proposition 12 listen to a podcast by MEAT+POULTRY’s Erica Shaffer from July.