California Proposition 12

NPPC’s Position

Animal welfare and consumer access to high-quality and affordable are top priorities for America’s hog farmers.

NPPC strongly opposes California Proposition 12 because:

  • It was designed with arbitrary standards that lack any scientific, technical, or agricultural basis. It is unjustified and counterproductive to advancing animal health and safety – and jeopardizes sow
  • It will reverse decades of progress in on-farm efficiency, undermine the global competitiveness of the U.S. pork industry, and increase food prices, causing more consumers to be unable to afford this high- quality protein.
  • The ban on the sale of out-of-state pork is a restraint of interstate commerce and a violation of the U.S. Constitution. In March 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the legal challenge filed by NPPC and the American Farm Bureau Federation against California Proposition 12. Arguments will take place in the fall of 2022, with a decision expected in early 2023.

Read more about sow housing

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 is 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.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2022, Proposition 12:

  • 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 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.
  • 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 represents approximately 15 percent of the U.S. pork market. The state has nearly 40 million residents, with a large Asian, Black, and Latino populations, all of which have long-standing cultural preferences for pork. 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.

 

Fast Facts

15%

of domestic U.S. pork sales are to California, which has large Asian, Black and Latino populations, all of which have longstanding cultural preferences for pork.

$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.

Proposition 12 will lead to greater concentration in the U.S. pork industry and the loss of individual family farms and will mean significantly higher pork prices at the grocery store and fewer consumers who can afford this high- quality protein.

Related Resources

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