Featured Articles

Animal Welfare Question in Massachusetts Delayed

By: Sydney Sheffield 

The Massachusetts House recently voted on the Question 3 initiative, prohibiting the sale of pork that does not meet the state’s production standards. Overwhelmingly, the House decided 156-1 to delay the initiative until January 1, 2023. Previously, it would have taken effect starting in 2022. The Massachusetts Senate still must vote on the decision. 

This summer, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) sent a letter to the Massachusetts Attorney general to delay the implementation of the rule until at least 2024 to give farmers, ranchers, packers, and processors time to understand and comply with the guidelines. “The time and cost of this challenge has been exacerbated over the last two years as the industry struggles to overcome the challenges – both to our workers and to the marketplaces for pigs and pork – caused by COVID-19,” NPPC stated in the letter.

According to Feedstuff, the House also transferred jurisdiction for drafting regulations from the state’s Attorney General to the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture. The measure, NPPC said, is expected to easily pass the state Senate before heading to Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker for signing.

Similarly, NPPC and the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) recently submitted a petition for a writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court regarding Proposition 12 in California. Like Question 3, Proposition 12 establishes minimum space requirements for breeding pigs, calves raised for veal, and egg-laying hens within the state. It also bans the sale of pork, veal, and eggs from animals raised elsewhere if their living conditions do not meet California’s standards. 

“We’re asking the Supreme Court to consider the constitutionality of one state imposing regulations that reach far outside its borders and stifle interstate and international commerce,” said NPPC President Jen Sorenson. “In this case, arbitrary animal housing standards that lack any scientific, technical, or agricultural basis and that will only inflict harm on U.S. hog farmers.”

This appeal comes after the Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rejected a previous petition by NPPC and AFBF to rescind Proposition 12 as unconstitutional. 

NPPC and AFBF believe Proposition 12 will dramatically change the national pork industry. However, the Ninth Circuit precedent will not allow the case to continue. NPPC and AFBF are fighting that this precedent run is contrary to various Supreme Court decisions and is against other federal circuit courts.

Without intervention, Proposition 12 is set to go into effect on January 1, 2022. Check out this May 2021 Taking Stock D.C. article for background information on Question 3 and Proposition 12.