are in Nevada. California requires pens to have at least 24 square feet
per sow; typical is 16 to 18 sq. ft. (Photo by John Locher, AP, via Los Angeles Times)
The U.S. Supreme Court has “preserved a California law banning the sale of pork in America’s most populous state from pigs kept in tightly confined spaces, rejecting an industry challenge claiming that the voter-backed animal welfare measure impermissibly regulates out-of-state farmers,” reports Nate Raymond of Reuters. Pork producers contended that California’s Proposition 12 tells out-of-state pork producers that if they want to tap into California’s pork market, California voters can indirectly tell them how to raise their pigs.
“The justices voted 5-4 to uphold a lower court’s dismissal of a
lawsuit by the National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm
Bureau Federation seeking to invalidate the law,” Raymond reports. The lobbies argued that the Constitution’s commerce clause, which gives the federal government the power to regulate interstate commerce, keeps the states from doing so in this case. NPPC President Scott Hays of Missouri told Raymond, “Allowing state overreach will increase prices for consumers and drive small farms out of business, leading to more consolidation.”
Conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch, wrote in the decision, “While the Constitution addresses many weighty issues,
the type of pork chops California merchants may sell is not on that
list.” Chief Justice John Roberts and fellow conservatives Samuel Alito and
Brett Kavanaugh, and liberal Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, “said they would have allowed the challengers to the California law
to pursue their claim in the lower courts,” Raymond reports.
“California farms collectively are only a small part of the $26 billion-a-year U.S. pork industry. The size of cages used at American pig farms is humane and necessary for animal safety, according to the industry, which asserts that California’s law gives the state unwarranted influence over the pork sector. President Joe Biden’s administration sided with the pork producers in the case, saying that states cannot ban products that pose no threat to public health or safety due to philosophical objections.”