June 01, 2023

Supreme Court upholds Prop 12

Supreme Court upholds Prop 12

By: Sydney Sheffield 

The United States Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) that challenges California’s Proposition 12 (Prop 12). Prop 12 passed in 201 and requires pork meat sold in the state to come from pigs born to a sow housed in at least a 24-square-foot-pen. The Supreme Court’s ruling is a major blow to pork producers across the country. 

“We are very disappointed with the Supreme Court’s opinion. Allowing state overreach will increase prices for consumers and drive small farms out of business, leading to more consolidation,” said Scott Hays, NPPC president, and Missouri pork producer. “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.”

In the lawsuit, NPPC and AFBF claim Prop 12 violates the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause, which gives Congress the authority to regulate interstate commerce. After the case was thrown out by a lower court, they appealed to the Supreme Court. The suit claims that Proposition 12 would force producers from other states to abide by California law. Californians are the largest pork market in the country, consuming approximately 15% of the pork produced in the country, producing only 1% of it. 

United States Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote for the five-justice majority, stating that California voters overwhelmingly endorsed the "ethical pork" law in 2018 and have the right to decide what products appear on store shelves. "Companies that choose to sell products in various States must normally comply with the laws of those various States," Gorsuch wrote in the opinion. "While the Constitution addresses many weighty issues, the type of pork chops California merchants may sell is not on that list."

In 2021, lawmakers introduced the Exposing Agricultural Trade Suppression (EATS) Act to alleviate this unconstitutional overregulation, prohibiting state and local governments from interfering with the production of agricultural goods in other states and forcing farmers across America to concede to radical regulations set by other states. Senator Roger Marshall (R-KS) introduced the EATS Act in 2021 and released a statement with the intent to reintroduce it due to the Prop 12 rejection.

“I’m disappointed the Supreme Court did not strike down California’s Proposition 12, we simply can’t allow radical state laws to dictate the agricultural practices of the rest of the nation, especially in a way that will only increase food costs for the food insecure and drive farmers and ranchers out of business,” Marshall said. “I will be re-introducing my EATS Act to prohibit state and local governments from interfering with the production or manufacture of agricultural products in other states."

Read the Supreme Court’s ruling here