September 01, 2022

Biden Administration supports pork producers in Prop 12

Biden Administration supports pork producers in Prop 12

By: Sydney Sheffield

The Solicitor General of the United States, Elizabeth Prelogar, has filed a brief in support of the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and the American Farm Bureau Federation’s (AFBF) lawsuit against California’s Proposition 12. The Proposition mandates farm animal confinement standards and directs the Department and the Department of Public Health to jointly promulgate regulations to implement the provisions for specified farm animals and the sale of specified products derived from them.

In the brief, Prelogar states that California “has no legitimate interest in protecting the welfare of animals located outside the state,” quoting a previous Supreme Court decision. The brief continues to say, “Voters in pork-producing States must determine what constitutes ‘cruel’ treatment of animals housed in those States, not voters in California,” quoting a 1935 Supreme Court decision. The brief comes after many Democrat senators asked the Solicitor General to support California’s position. Check out this Taking Stock D.C. article discussing the Supreme Court filing and the senators’ letter.

“We commend the Biden administration for taking action to stop ill-considered ballot initiatives like California’s Proposition 12 that undermine vital supply chains, national markets, and consumer choice and further inflate food prices,” said Michael Formica, NPPC Assistant Vice President, and General Counsel. “Additional supporters filed briefs opposing Proposition 12 and stood up to preserve the free flow of commerce among states to ensure consumers all over the nation have access to affordable, safe and wholesome food.”

Animal activist groups are unhappy about the Solicitor General’s decision not to side with California. “It is shocking that the Biden Administration is attacking the rights of states to enact anti-cruelty and food safety laws, especially in the absence of even a single farm animal protection statute and a general federal dereliction of duty when it comes to safeguarding animals reared for food,” said Wayne Pacelle, president, Animal Wellness Action. “Millions of people every year are sickened by a range of bacteria and viruses that flow from factory farms. The state’s interest in protecting the interests of Californians could not be more apparent.”

While the risk of foodborne illness is a concern among animal activists, according to NPPC and AFBF’s filing, The California Department of Food and Agriculture admitted that they could not “confirm according to its usual scientific practices that the specific minimum confinement standards in Prop 12 reduce the risk of human foodborne illness”  and that Proposition 12’s animal space confinement allowances are “not based on scientific peer-reviewed published scientific literature or accepted as standards within the scientific community to reduce human foodborne illness.”

The Supreme Court is expected to hear oral arguments on October 11, 2022.