NPPC Resource Hub

California Proposition 12

A dedicated resources page from the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) on California Proposition 12, and related legislation.

 

 

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NPPC’s Position  |  Background  |  Timeline & Status  |  Resources  |  Press Releases & Op-Eds

NPPC’s Position on California Proposition 12

Animal welfare and maintaining consumer access to high-quality, affordable pork are top priorities for America’s pig farmers.

 

NPPC strongly opposes California Proposition 12 because:

  • It’s unconstitutional. The ban on the sale of out-of-state pork is a restraint of interstate commerce and a violation of the U.S. Constitution.
  • Imposes arbitrary standards. The law is based on arbitrary standards that lack any scientific, technical, or agricultural basis.
  • Threatens animal welfare. Implementing this law will reverse decades of progress in animal welfare and farm biosecurity and undermine the global competitiveness of the U.S. pork industry. It is unjustified and counterproductive to advancing animal health and safety – and jeopardizes sow safety.
  • Increases food prices and disrupts supply chains. The cost to implement Prop 12 has been measured to be approximately $3,500/sow, a cost that farmers will need to pass onto to consumers at a time of record-high inflation.
  • Threaten producers’ livelihoods. Financial investments and an ever-increasing patchwork of standards continues to create significant challenges for how producers operate and increasingly allows others to dictate how to raise pigs without any voice in the standards being imposed upon them.

Read the NPPC and AFBF Supreme Court Brief

Background

California voters in 2018 approved Proposition 12, a ballot measure that prohibits the sale of pork, eggs, and veal not produced according to the state’s arbitrary production standards. These standards were developed without input from hog farmers, veterinarians, animal care, food safety, and pork production experts. California was nearly three years behind developing its regulations to implement Prop 12, resulting in the Sacramento Superior Court issuing an injunction on its enforcement for at least 180 days once final regulations are issued.

California has nearly 40 million residents, representing approximately 15 percent of the U.S. pork market.  Proposition 12 will dramatically reduce the pork supply for Californians and raise prices that will disproportionately affect low-income households.

Despite being such a large consumer market for pork, California has essentially no pork production and is dependent on farms located far outside its borders to feed its residents. Proposition 12 was designed to force hog farmers in other states and countries who want to sell pork into the populous California market to retrofit existing barns or design new housing systems.

According to a University of Minnesota study, the conversion of sow barns to group pens would cost between $1.9 billion and more than $3.2 billion. With California’s mandate to also eliminate the use of breeding stalls will also contribute to significant increases of industry costs.

Proposition 12, as written:

  1. Bans the sale of pork from the offspring of sows kept in pens that do not meet its prescribed dimensions of 24 square feet per sow.
  2. Prohibits breeding stalls that provide a safe postpartum and piglet nursing space for sows. Today’s typical sow farm offers a comfortable 16-18 square feet per sow.
  3. Applies to any uncooked pork sold in California, whether raised there or outside the state’s borders. It specifically applies to bacon and other cuts of meat that have been cured, preserved, or flavored but not cooked. It does not apply to combination products such as sandwiches, hot dogs, pizzas, or other prepared foods that are comprised of more than pork meat and seasonings.

As it relates to the use of gestation stalls, NPPC supports the position taken by the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, which recognize gestation stalls and group housing systems as appropriate for providing for the well-being of sows during pregnancy. In fact, the key factor that most affects animal well-being is husbandry skills – that is, the care given to each animal.

There is no scientific consensus on the best way to house gestating sows because each type of housing system has inherent advantages and disadvantages.

Timeline & Status

November 2018: California voters passed the Proposition 12 which imposes arbitrary minimum requirements on farmers to provide more space for egg laying hens, breeding sows, and calves raised for veal.

December 2018:  NPPC and American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) filed a legal challenge to Proposition 12, asking the court to strike it as invalid under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

January 2022: A state superior court granted a delay in the effective date of Prop. 12 for 180 days after final implementing regulations are issued. California has not issued final regulations, nearly 3 years after the deadline.

March 2022: The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the legal challenge filed by NPPC/AFBF against California Proposition 12. Arguments will take place in the fall of 2022, with a decision expected in early 2023.

June 2022: NPPC/AFBF filed a joint brief arguing Proposition 12 violates the U.S. Constitution’s commerce clause, which restricts states from regulating commerce outside their borders.

July 2022:  Amicus Briefs filed in support of the NPPC/AFBF case to review California Prop 12. The Biden administration, international trading partners and business groups representing the full scope of the U.S. economy filed amicus briefs in support of the National Pork Producers Council’s case.

September 2022: NPPC/AFBF file SCOTUS Reply Brief to Petitioners.  The same day, California’s Department of Food and Agriculture announced it finally completed the Proposition 12 implementation rules (three years after the original statutory deadline).

October 11, 2022:  The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments.

Fast Facts

15%

of domestic U.S. pork sales are to California

$1.9 billion to more than $3.2 billion

are the estimated costs for converting sow barns to group pens, according to a University of Minnesota study. Because of the way pork is processed, it would be difficult to separate meat based on various farms’ production practices, impacting the entire supply chain.

$3,500/sow

is the cost that farmers will need invest and pass onto consumers at a time of record-high inflation. That means a producer owner operating a 4,000 sow farm will need to invest approximately $14 million to be compliant.

Resources

ARTICLES

Press Releases & Op-Eds