Farm Groups Challenge California's Animal Housing Standards in Court

Posted on Fri, 12/06/2019 - 10:12

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) filed a legal challenge to California’s Proposition 12, which imposes animal housing standards. The state’s law would force hog farmers who want to sell pork to the state that makes up around 15% of the U.S. pork market to switch to alternative housing systems, and that comes with a big price tag.

The new rules slated to take effect Jan. 1, 2022 would prohibit the sale of pork not produced via California’s “highly prescriptive standards” under which only 1% of U.S. pork production qualify, according to a press release from NPPC and AFBF. The two groups are asking the court to strike Proposition 12, which also sets minimum space requirements for veal calves and egg-laying hens, as invalid under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.

“Proposition 12 revolves around a set of arbitrary standards that lack any scientific, technical or agricultural basis, and will only serve to inflict further harm on U.S. hog farmers," said Jen Sorenson, NPPC vice president. “U.S. pork producers are already fighting to expand market opportunities overseas. We shouldn't have to fight to preserve our domestic market, too,” she adds.

“This law was sold to California voters as a solution to improve animal welfare and food safety, but it has nothing to do with food safety, and many animals will suffer more injury and illness under its arbitrary rules," said AFBF General Counsel Ellen Steen. "The best way to protect animal well-being is to allow farmers to make farm-specific and animal-specific decisions on animal care. Prop 12 will deny them that ability while driving up their costs. The hardest hit will be family farms, especially smaller independent farms,” she continues.