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Prop 12 implementation date extended

By: Sydney Sheffield

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) has successfully filed a modification to extend the implementation date of Proposition 12 (Prop 12), to allow the U.S. pork industry and food supply chain additional time to transition. In late 2022, a California judge extended a stay on enforcement of the law until July 1, 2023, pending the outcome of the United States Supreme Court. On May 11, 2023, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of California. The verdict resulted in an accelerated timeframe for the industry and supply chain to comply. 

California's Proposition 12, which began as a ballot initiative in 2018, requires that covered animals be housed in confinement systems that comply with specific minimum standards for freedom of movement, cage-free design, and minimum floor space, and identifies covered animals to include veal calves, breeding pigs and egg-laying hens, as specified. The law prohibits a farm owner or operator from knowingly causing any covered animal to be confined in a cruel manner, as specified, and prohibits a business owner or operator from knowingly engaging in the sale within the state of shell eggs, liquid eggs, whole pork meat or whole veal meat, as defined, from covered animals confined in a cruel manner.

“It is welcome news to America’s pig farmers and consumers that California recognized the challenging situation the July 1 Proposition 12 implementation date will have on our industry and food supply,” NPPC CEO Bryan Humphreys wrote in a statement. “Granting six months of additional relief for products in the supply chain allows grocery stores to remain stocked so the 40 million Californians have uninterrupted access to affordable, safe, and nutritious pork products, especially with rising food prices.”

The order effectively provides an extension of time for the continued sale of non-compliant whole pork meat already in the supply chain when Prop 12 takes effect. The order does not delay the underlying requirements of Prop 12, it is only an adjustment related to the sale of non-compliant whole pork meat already in the supply chain. Anything harvested after July 1, 2023, to be sold in California will still have to be Prop 12 compliant.

As the implementation date looms, The California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) Animal Care Program released a new guidance document on its website detailing the on-site inspection requirements for a distributor obtaining a third-party certification according to Proposition 12's regulations. Producers and distributors are required to be third-party certified by January 1, 2024. Read the CDFA guidance here.

“While this temporary solution does not solve the challenges and uncertainty California Proposition 12 brings to our industry, NPPC looks forward to working with Congress to find a permanent solution to this problem,” Humphreys concluded.