WASHINGTON, D.C., Aug. 11, 2022 — New Englanders can breathe a sigh of relief after a United States federal court judge for the District of Massachusetts today signed a court order…
NPPC Resource Hub
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. Furthermore, California is seeking to impose its regulations on farms located far outside of the state and which have no contact with the state. It is a violation of the U.S. Constitution.
- Imposes arbitrary standards. The law is based on arbitrary and prescriptive 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.
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 after 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:
- 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.
- Prohibits breeding pens that provide a safe postpartum space for sows to recover from their previous litter without the stress of fighting and establishing dominance in the herd. Today’s typical sow farm offers a comfortable 16-18 square feet per sow.
- 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. California has also said it will not apply to ground or comminuted pork such as that found in sausage.
As it relates to the use of individual pens, NPPC supports the position taken by the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, which recognize both individual pens 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 (over three years after the original statutory deadline).
October 11, 2022: The Supreme Court heard oral arguments.
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.
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.
- October 14: The supreme court is in session – and every case is potentially a climate one – Guardian
- October 13: Why Are Food System Folks Fighting Against More Humane Animal Conditions at the Supreme Court? – Food Tank
- October 13: SCOTUS Hears Pork Industry Challenge to Calif. Law – Medium
- October 13: If California’s Pork Law Falls, Will Section 2115 Be Next? – National Law Review
- October 13: Pork industry challenges California animal law at US Supreme Court – Big News Network
- October 12: Pork Industry Lawyer Argues Against Animal Protection Law Before SCOTUS – MFA
- October 12: Meat packers tell the Supreme Court they have a right to torture pigs – Daily Koz
- October 12: Why California’s Animal Welfare Law Is Unconstitutional – Epoch Times
- October 12: Supreme Court Considers California’s Prop 12 Case – PETA
- October 12: Experts urge Supreme Court to uphold Prop 12’s animal cruelty protections – Human League
- October 12: U.S. Supreme Court just heard arguments in historic case for animals · A Humane World – HSUS
- October 12: Supreme Court to weigh national, state interests as it decides on future of Prop 12 – Agri-Pulse
- October 12: Supreme Court Hears Arguments on California’s Pig-Welfare Law – WSJ
- October 12: Both sides confident after Supreme Court Prop 12 oral arguments – Meatingplace
- October 12: Supreme Court Wrestles With Case on Pigs, Cruelty and Commerce – The New York Times
- October 12: Ag organizations comment on interstate commerce issue, CA Prop 12 – Morning Ag Clips
- October 12: US Supreme Court weighs California’s animal cruelty law regulating pigs, pork prices – Associated Press
- October 12: Supreme Court Voices Concern Over California Humane-Pork Law – Bloomberg Law
- October 12: The Field Report: Morality at the Center of Supreme Court Arguments Over Raising Farmed Pigs in Crates – Civil Eats
- October 12: Agriculture groups argued against California’s Proposition 12 to the Supreme Court Tuesday – NAFB/Barn Media
- October 11: Strange bedfellows: Why Biden is siding with the meat industry – Politico
- October 11: SCOTUS to hear livestock welfare case – Politico
- October 11: Supreme Court majority questions California law regulating pig pens, pork products – USA Today
- October 11: Supreme Court to hear case that could raise price of pork – AP
- October 11: Prop 12 now in the hands of Supreme Court following oral arguments | Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc. – Agri-Pulse
- October 11: Supreme Court Pork Case Could Provide Roadmap for Moral Warfare – Bloomberg Law
- October 11: Supreme Court seems conflicted over California regulation on pork from pregnant pigs – ABC News
- October 11: How a Challenge to California’s Animal Cruelty Law Became a Stealth Abortion Case – Slate
- October 11: U.S. Supreme Court wrestles with pork industry challenge to California law – Reuters
- October 11: California law could have ramifications for Iowa pork producers – The Courier
- October 11: Pigs can’t fly, but they can produce tough legal questions at the Supreme Court – NPR
- October 11: Supreme Court justices divided over California law setting standards for pig enclosures – SF Chronicle
- October 11: SCOTUS hears crucial pork case on Prop 12 – Farm Progress
- October 11: High court weighs California law on pigs, pork prices – Newsbreak/ABC
- October 11: California law on sale of pork raises concerns about interstate moral disputes in a “balkanized” nation – SCOTUSBlog
- October 11: A Historical Day: SCOTUS Hears Oral Arguments on Proposition 12 – Farm Journal’s Pork
- October 11: The Supreme Court seems absolutely flummoxed by a high-stakes case about pigs – Vox
- October 11: Kagan raises alarms over ‘divided country’ in pork industry challenge to California law – Washington Examiner
- October 11: Supreme Court judges wallow in legal quagmire over challenge of California pork industry restrictions – WooDZog
- October 11: A conservative Supreme Court could still surprise us – The Hill
- October 11: Justices probe limits of California law on pig production – Roll Call
- October 11: SCOTUS hears pork industry’s challenge to animal welfare law – Digital Journal
- October 11: U.S. Supreme Court majority questions California law requiring bigger pig pens – Des Moines Register
- October 11: A Supreme Court battle between pork producers and California over an animal cruelty law could affect how much you pay for bacon – Yahoo/Business Insider
- October 11: CA Law That Would Raise Bacon Prices Heads To Supreme Court – Patch
- October 11: SCOTUS probes Calif. pork fight’s ‘far-reaching consequences’ – EE News/Greenwire
- October 11: U.S. Supreme Court Wrestles With Pork Industry Challenge to California Law – US News
- October 11: Supreme Court considers hog industry challenge to California animal welfare law – Reuters/NBC
- October 11: Supreme Court Voices Worries Over California Humane-Pork Law – Bloomberg Law
- October 11: Supreme Court justices wallow in legal morass over challenge to California pork industry restrictions – NBC
- October 10: Pig Farming Doesn’t Have to Be This Cruel – NY Times
- October 10: Follow California Proposition 12 SCOTUS Oral Arguments Live – Farm Journal’s Pork
- October 10: Op-Ed: The Supreme Court shouldn’t meddle with California’s standards on meat and eggs – LA Times
- October 10: Pork industry takes fight over California law to U.S. Supreme Court – Reuters
- October 10: Bringing Home the Constitutional Bacon – Newsweek
- October 10: Supreme Court To Decide If California Can Ban Cruelty To Animals In Other States – Forbes
- October 10: Court to hear battle over animal welfare, the dormant commerce clause — and the price of bacon – SCOTUSBlog
- October 10: Supreme Court battle over ‘cruelty’ to pregnant pigs could affect pork prices, animal care – ABC News
- October 10: Pork industry wants Supreme Court to fry California animal welfare law – Washington Examiner
- October 10: California Pigs to Have Their Day in Supreme Court – Newsweek
- October 10: Pork industry takes fight over California law to U.S. Supreme Court – Reuters
- October 10: The Supreme Court takes up bacon – Washington Examiner
- August 4: Animal welfare bill could impact meat supplies, prices – Western Mass News
- August 3: Bringing home the bacon will soon cost more in California. For good reason, animal advocates say. – The Washington Post
- August 2: Coming Soon: The Great California Bacon Crisis – Intelligencer
- August 1: Could you live without bacon? Bacon may disappear in California as pig rules take effect – USA Today
- August 1: Who’s to Blame for a Factory Shutdown: A Company, or California? – New York Times
- August 1: FUTURE OF PROPOSITION 12 LEAVES PORK SECTOR IN LIMBO – Brownfield Ag
- July 28: Major ag cases await Supreme Court in October – Capital Press
- July 29: Overstepping on Prop 12 – The Intelligencer, Daily News-Record
- July 27: CA Prop 12 Concerns Linger for Ag Groups – Ag Info
- July 26: NCBA shares their biggest legal challenges as they fight for U.S. producers – RFD TV
- July 26: Views from the summit – Meat and Poultry
- July 25: Opinion: Let Californians keep their laws to themselves – AgriPulse
- July 15: California giving ag the squeeze (Editorial) – Delmarva Farmer (AFP), New Jersey Farmer
- July 20: THE IMPORTANCE OF ENGAGEMENT IN THE PORK INDUSTRY – Brownfield Ag News
- July 12: Voter-Approved Proposition to Raise California Pork Prices – UC Davis
- July 14: Coffee Talk: Hot Topics in the Pork Industry – SwineWeb
- July 14: Hogs and Pigs report shows Prop. 12 impacts – AgriNews
- July 14: High court to hear arguments on Farm Animal Confinement Initiative – AgriNews
- July 12: Making Sense of California’s Proposition 12 – com *originally published on Pig Champ
Press Releases & Op-Eds
WASHINGTON, D.C., July 21, 2022 — The Biden administration, international trading partners and business groups representing the full scope of the U.S. economy, among others, filed amicus briefs in support…
WASHINGTON, June 13, 2022 – The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of California’s…
March 28, 2022
WASHINGTON, D.C., Mar. 28, 2022 – The U.S. Supreme Court at its Mar. 25 conference agreed to hear a case brought by the National Pork Producers…
WASHINGTON, D.C., Dec. 22, 2021 – Following approval by the Massachusetts Legislature, Gov. Charlie Baker today signed into law a compromise measure delaying until Aug. 15, 2022, implementation of the state’s…
WASHINGTON, D.C., Sept. 27, 2021 – The National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation today petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to take their case against California’s Proposition 12, which…
WASHINGTON, December 6, 2019 – The National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation have filed a legal challenge to California’s Proposition 12, which imposes animal housing standards…
From LAW 360 article by Daniel Kolkey
Does California have the legal authority to effectively regulate the national pork market, thereby forcing a restructuring of an entire U.S. industry…