April 27, 2022

Prop 12 goes to the Supreme Court

Prop 12 goes to the Supreme Court 

By: Sydney Sheffield 

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has announced it will hear the case brought by the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) against California’s Proposition 12 (Prop. 12). Prop. 12 requires additional spacing requirements for gestating sows and would ban the sale of any pork not raised according to the set standards. NPPC has previously called for a delay in the implementation. 

“It's a very exciting decision, it means the Supreme Court is interested in reviewing whether or not what California has done here is constitutional,” said Travis Cushman, Senior Counsel for Public Policy at AFBF. “That's an incredibly high bar to reach, the Supreme Court takes less than one percent of cases a year that come before it, which means that there are a ton of cases that are very deserving but never had the opportunity. But here, the Supreme Court, at least views that we have reached that bar to decide this important issue.” 

The NPPC-AFBF case, which argues that Prop. 12 violates the Constitution’s Commerce Clause, limiting states’ ability to regulate commerce outside their borders, was relisted from the SCOTUS conference on January 14th and again on January 21st and finally, was granted certiorari in action they took March 25th. NPPC and AFBF in the coming weeks will file their initial brief with the Supreme Court, which could hear oral arguments in the fall and could render a decision by the end of the year.

“We are extremely pleased that the Supreme Court will consider the constitutionality of Proposition 12, in which California seeks to impose regulations targeting farming practices outside its borders that would stifle interstate and international commerce,” said NPPC President Terry Wolters. “NPPC has poured a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into preserving the rights of America’s pork producers to raise hogs in a way that’s best for their animals’ well-being and that allows them to continue selling pork to all consumers, both here and internationally.”

Prop. 12, the Prevention of Cruelty to Farm Animals Act’s stated purpose is to "prevent animal cruelty by phasing out extreme methods of farm animal confinement, which also threaten the health and safety of California consumers and increase the risk of foodborne illness and associated negative fiscal impacts on the State of California." Researchers from North Carolina State University found that the proposition would increase the cost by 15% more per animal for a farm with 1,000 breeding pigs.

According to Cushman, the process will entail “another round of briefing with the Supreme Court, there will also be Amicus opportunities for interested parties to file to court as well. [He] expects the oral arguments will happen sometime in October, with a decision by either December or early 2023.”