In a ruling on Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court preserved California’s Prop 12, a law banning the sale of pork in California from the offspring of sows kept in pens that do not meet its prescribed dimensions of 24 square feet per sow, even if the hogs were raised outside the state.
“We are very disappointed with the Supreme Court’s opinion,” says Scott Hays, president of the National Pork Producers Council and a Missouri pork producer. “Allowing state overreach will increase prices for consumers and drive small farms out of business, leading to more consolidation. We are still evaluating the Court’s full opinion to understand all the implications. NPPC will continue to fight for our nation’s pork farmers and American families against misguided regulations.”
According to Reuters, the justices voted 5-4 to uphold a lower court’s dismissal of a lawsuit by the National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation seeking to invalidate the law, but they were divided in their reasons for doing so.
The decision is a blow to not just pork producers, but livestock producers across the country. Michael Formica, chief legal strategist for NPPC, said recently, “What Proposition 12 is doing is saying your local elected officials have no say in this. Whatever they want, whatever system of government, whatever laws you and your neighbors decided to live under, they are irrelevant. Gavin Newsom and the state of California can send their police authorities far outside of California, inspect your farm, and tell you how to run your operation.”
He added that we’re looking at a situation where four states could control the entire country with California and New York on the left, and Texas and Florida on the right. He doesn’t like that all of our national policies could be dictated by laws enacted in those four states, saying, “That’s not a situation anyone wants to live in.”
The Biden administration sided with pork producers on the case, testifying that they believe states should not be able to ban products that pose no threat to public health or safety due to philosophical objections.
“Today’s Supreme Court decision on California’s Proposition 12 sets a dangerous precedent for animal rights extremist groups to target other states with similar ballot initiatives,” states a release from the Animal Agriculture Alliance. “Animal rights extremist organizations have been pushing for state-level legislation banning frequently-used animal care practices, such as gestation stalls for pregnant sows or cages for laying hens, for years. The true motive of these changes is to make it less efficient and more expensive for farmers to raise animals for food, driving up the cost of meat, dairy, poultry, and eggs for consumers, forcing them to make tough choices about what they can afford to feed their families and forcing farmers to make costly changes that may make it impossible to keep their business afloat.”