Pork Industry Wants Prop 12 Review

NAMI Argues Pork Producers' Livelihoods at Stake in Request for SCOTUS Review

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Staff Reporter
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The North American Meat Institute continues to make its case that the Supreme Court should consider a review of Proposition 12 in California. (DTN file photo)

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) -- California's Proposition 12 provides no benefits to consumers while putting pork producers across the country at a disadvantage, the North American Meat Institute argues in a brief filed with the Supreme Court on Monday, as the group tries to convince the high court to hear its case against the law.

In February, NAMI filed a petition for a writ of certiorari, asking the Supreme Court to review an earlier ruling upholding the law by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

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.

NAMI opposes the law because the group said it will increase costs for producers and consumers. NAMI filed the brief in response to opposition coming from the state of California and the Humane Society of the United States. 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 (https://www.dtnpf.com/…).

The state then released the proposed rule late in May (http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/…).

"Absent immediate review of the Ninth Circuit's legal ruling, there can be no further development of NAMI's core legal claims, no assessment by the courts below of the irreparable harm that Proposition 12 will visit on NAMI's members and the many thousands of farmers throughout the country with whom they work, and no need for those courts to consider the new grounds that respondents now suggest they may have for defending Proposition 12," NAMI said in its reply brief to the Supreme Court.

"This case squarely presents the threshold legal question whether the Constitution allows California to 'attach restrictions to imports in order to control commerce in other states.' That question is of surpassing national importance, has generated a conflict among the circuits, and warrants immediate resolution by this court."

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:

"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