SCOTUS Declines to Hear Prop 12 Case

Legal Challenge to California's Proposition 12 Denied by Supreme Court

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Staff Reporter
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The Supreme Court on Monday denied a petition to hear a case on California's Proposition 12. (DTN file photo by Chris Clayton)

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) -- The Supreme Court will not hear a challenge to California's Proposition 12 filed by the North American Meat Institute, which requires hog producers to abide by certain regulations to sell pork in California come Jan. 1, 2022.

NAMI filed the petition for a writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court in February, asking the court to review an earlier ruling, upholding the law by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The Supreme Court granted writ of certiorari to just two cases, https://www.supremecourt.gov/….

The law requires hog producers to abide by certain regulations to sell pork in California. Voters in the state passed Proposition 12 in 2018 with nearly 63% of votes supporting it.

California consumers are likely to experience sticker shock when shopping for pork after Jan. 1, 2022, when Proposition 12 takes effect.

A new white paper released by the Food Equity Alliance last week said an expected 50% reduction in pork exported to California will create supply shortages and raise pork prices for consumers.

NAMI had opposed the law because the group said it will increase costs for producers and consumers. In March, NAMI was joined in its case by 20 states.

In separate lawsuits, NAMI and the National Pork Producers Council and American Farm Bureau Federation challenged Proposition 12 because it requires hog producers in other states to comply with California's law to sell pork in the state.

With the effective date of the law just seven months away, hog producers had been waiting for the state to release a rule giving them direction on how to comply. That rule was released in late May, giving producers across the country the rest of the year to comply.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2022, Proposition 12 will prohibit the sale of pork not produced according to California's production standards. Proposition 12 applies to any uncooked pork sold in the state, regardless of whether it was raised in California.

The law forbids the sale of whole pork meat in California from hogs born of sows not housed in conformity with the law. Proposition 12 forbids sows from being confined in such a way that they cannot lie down, stand up, fully extend their limbs, or turn around without touching the sides of their stalls or other animals.

According to the National Pork Producers Council, less than 1% of pork produced in the United States meets Proposition 12 requirements.

The state needs about 700,000 sows to satisfy its pork demand. About 1,500 out of California's 8,000 sows are used in commercial breeding housed in small farms. The NPPC has argued because the state must import most of its sows, Proposition 12 essentially regulates farmers beyond state borders.

Read more DTN coverage here:

"Livestock Producers in a Fight," https://www.dtnpf.com/…

"Pork Industry Wants Prop 12 Review," https://www.dtnpf.com/…

"States Join AMI in Proposition 12 Case," https://www.dtnpf.com/…

"Ag Groups Make Case v. Proposition 12," https://www.dtnpf.com/…

"Rabobank: Prop 12 Disrupts Hog Supply," https://www.dtnpf.com/…

Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @DTNeeley

Todd Neeley