Pork Industry Set To Face Down California At The Supreme Court

  • Post category:News / US News

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The Supreme Court will hear arguments on Tuesday from pork industry groups that are challenging California animal welfare regulations that have large impacts on pig farming nationwide.

The National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation are appealing a lower court’s decision to uphold a 2018 California law that banned the sale of pork products from companies that do not meet minimum animal confinement standards, according to a court brief. The producers claim that California’s law, known as Proposition 12, attempts to regulate out-of-state producers and violates the Constitution’s Commerce Clause, which gives Congress sole power to regulate interstate commerce.

Proposition 12, which was supported by animal rights groups, requires all adult female pigs to be housed in large group pens for the animals’ safety and humane treatment, according to the law’s text. However, the pork industry argues that pig farmers keep hogs in individual pens in order to prevent diseases like African swine fever from spreading, according to court filings.

The groups claim that the regulations violate the “dormant” Commerce Clause which prevents states from passing laws that discriminate against businesses in other states, according to legal documents. Although California is the most populous state and accounts for 13% of national pork consumption, roughly 99.9% of pork is produced outside the state, according to legal documents.

This means that the law, which could raise prices for producers and consumers, largely affects farmers outside of California.

President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice appeared to affirm such a judgment in the brief stating that California cannot regulate out-of-state activity with no in-state impact based on a “philosophical objection,” according to a June court brieffiled by the U.S. Solicitor General. The Constitution does allow states to protect the health and safety of citizens; however, the California Department of Food and Agriculture stated that its rules do “not directly impact human health and welfare” and aren’t “accepted as standards within the scientific community to reduce food-borne illness.”

The California Department of Food and Agriculture, the National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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