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A National Pork Board Pig Farmer of the Year Brad Greenway and his wife, Peggy of Greenway Pork, feed pigs in one of their wean-to-finish pig barns on their farm near Mitchell, S.D.  In a story published in National Hog Farmer, Greenway observed, “Consu
National Hog Farmer
A National Pork Board Pig Farmer of the Year Brad Greenway and his wife, Peggy of Greenway Pork, feed pigs in one of their wean-to-finish pig barns on their farm near Mitchell, S.D. In a story published in National Hog Farmer, Greenway observed, “Consu

Farm Animal Confinement Initiative will affect producers around the country


News Staff - September 28, 2020

DES MOINES, IA - A legislative and subsequent voter approved law in California has implications across the United States as it relates to pork, poultry and dairy calf production.  In addition, the precedent it sets could impact other commodity producers in the future.

Passed by California voters in 2018 63% to 37% in a strict urban-rural county split, Proposition 12 sets minimum space requirements for farm animals such as cattle, pigs, and chickens. Proposition 12 places specific minimum-size requirements on the coops and cages used to contain egg-laying hens, breeding pigs, and veal calves. It bans all businesses from selling in California any food products derived from animals not raised in compliance with these requirements.

The first attempts to overturn California's Proposition 12 (the Farm Animal Confinement Initiative) began last week when the National Pork Producers Council and American Farm Bureau Federation jointly filed their opening brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, asking the court to strike California's Proposition 12 as invalid.

Legal arguments from the groups include Proposition 12 imposes arbitrary animal housing standards that reach outside of California's borders to farms across the United States.  For example, beginning Jan. 1, 2022, Proposition 12 prohibits the sale of pork not produced according to California's highly prescriptive production standards.

Both ag organizations say that by attempting to regulate businesses outside of its borders, California's Proposition 12 violates the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution. 

The proposition applies to any uncooked pork sold in the state, whether raised there or outside its borders. Proposition 12 "imposes an enormous and costly burden on interstate commercial transactions, requiring wholesale rebuilding of tens of thousands of sow farm facilities and massive operational changes in how farmers care for their sows," explained the filing.

Additionally, "It achieves no consumer-health benefit at all, although that was touted to voters as one of its goals - and far exceeds any right of California to determine what its own citizens eat by regulating as a practical matter how pork is produced nationwide."

Currently, less than one percent of U.S. pork production meets Proposition 12's requirements. To comply with Proposition 12, U.S. hog farmers would need to start making investment decisions today to be ready by the implementation date.



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