Animal funds

Supreme Court to hear challenge to Proposition 12, California’s animal caging bill

  • Proposition 12, backed by voters, bans in-state sales of pork, eggs and veal raised in tight quarters
  • Pork producers call it unconstitutional regulation of out-of-state farms

(Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a challenge by two national farm groups to California’s Proposition 12, an amendment to the health and safety code that bans the sale of pork, eggs and veal if animals were raised in conditions that do not meet state minimum space requirements.

State voters overwhelmingly approved the change in 2018, but the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) say it is unconstitutional state regulation of meat products. out-of-state farmers.

The groups focused primarily on hog farmers, saying the costs would fall almost exclusively on out-of-state producers since California has only about 0.2% of the nation’s breeding sows, but consumes 13 % of country’s pork through interconnected national markets.

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The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed their arguments last July, saying the law only regulated activities in the state and that the increased costs to farmers elsewhere were “not unconscionable.”

Like a California law banning the sale of foie gras from force-fed birds, which the 9th Circuit affirmed in 2019, Proposition 12 “simply prevented” a more profitable method of operation…rather than affecting the flow interstate freight,” the 9th Circuit said.

In the farm groups’ motion for certiorari, Timothy Bishop of Mayer Brown wrote that the 9th Circuit had “set aside” several Supreme Court rulings on the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, saying they considered that ” laws with significant extraterritorial effects violate our federalist system”.

The petition was supported by amicus briefs from 20 state governments, the Canadian Pork Council, 14 trade or agricultural associations outside of California, and the National Association of Manufacturers and Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

The California Attorney General’s press office said in an email that it was “disappointed” the court agreed to hear the case, but “we look forward to continuing to defend the constitutionality of Proposition 12.” “.

Rather than filing amicus briefs for California, the Humane Society of the United States, the Animal Legal Defense Fund and other anti-cruelty groups have intervened as parties in the case. They were represented by Bruce Wagman of Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila and Jeffrey Lamken of MoloLamken.

Humane Society President and CEO Kitty Block said in an emailed statement Monday that she was “confident” the Supreme Court would uphold the law.

“The Court has repeatedly affirmed the right of states to enact laws protecting animals, public health and safety, and the pork industry should focus on eliminating cruel animal caging rather than destroying it. ‘attack grassroots animal cruelty laws passed by voters,’ Block said.

The law was supposed to take full effect this year, but California is still finalizing regulations to implement it. Last month, a Sacramento state court judge barred the state from enforcing the law for 180 days after the settlement was issued.

The case is National Pork Producers Council and American Farm Bureau Federation v. Karen Ross, Secretary, California Department of Food & Agriculture, Humane Society of the US, et al.

For NPPC and AFBF: Timothy Bishop, Brett Legner, Dan Himmelfarb and Colleen Campbell of Mayer Brown

For Ross et al. : Samuel Harbort and Matthew Wise, California Department of Justice

For Humane Society of the US et al. : Bruce Wagman of Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila and Jeffrey Lamken of Molo Lamken

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