Farm Bureau Welcomes Supreme Court Decision to Hear Prop 12 Case(Originally published by the American Farm Bureau Federation® in March, 2022)
American Farm Bureau Federation® (AFBF) President Zippy Duvall today commented on the U.S. Supreme Court decision to hear the case against California’s Proposition 12 filed by AFBF and the National Pork Producers Council. The state law seeks to ban the sale of pork from hogs that don’t meet the state’s arbitrary production standards, even if the pork was raised on farms outside of California.
“AFBF is pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision to consider the constitutionality of California’s law imposing arbitrary requirements on farmers well outside its borders. We share California’s goal of ensuring animals are well cared for, but Prop 12 fails to advance that goal. We look forward to presenting the facts to the Court, including how Prop 12 hamstrings farmers’ efforts to provide a safe environment for their animals, while harming small family farms and raising pork prices across the country. One state’s misguided law should not dictate farming practices for an entire nation.”
Laws like Prop 12 can have significant unintended consequences. The costs to comply with new rules could be too great for small farms, making it difficult to stay in business and driving more consolidation in agriculture. They could put animal welfare at risk. Or they could limit how farmers combat disease in crops and livestock. While voters in California wanted to ensure that animals were well cared for, Prop 12 doesn’t achieve that goal. And one state’s misguided law certainly shouldn’t dictate farming practices across the country.
Prop 12 is the perfect example of how people’s good intentions can result in bad policy because of over-simplification of complicated issues. California voters were told that Prop 12 would lead to healthier and safer animals because pregnant sows would be able to move around with other pregnant sows and not be kept in gestation stalls. However, farmers know that sows become incredibly aggressive and dangerous at certain points during their pregnancy. Larger sows steal food from smaller sows, and often violently lash out at them. Gestation stalls keep pregnant sows apart from one another for their safety and to ensure they are getting the proper nutrition and care they need to keep themselves and their piglets safe.
The animal welfare discussion about the design and use of gestation stalls is a separate issue from the question here: whether individual states should be able to dictate standards on farms far beyond their borders. The implications are substantial for interstate commerce—for farmers, consumers and the entire food supply chain.
Farm Bureau is pleased that the Court has decided to hear our case. Now you can bet we’ll roll-up our sleeves and do our best to present an honest picture of the high stakes that hang in the balance for agriculture.