The State of California has until April 2 to respond to a Petition for a writ of certiorari filed with the U.S. Supreme Court by the North American Meat Institute (NAMI).

Attorneys for NAMI say enactment of California’s Proposition 12 demands the Supreme Court answer a question raised by the so-called Farm Animal Confinement Initiative.

That question is this:

“Whether the Constitution permits California to extend its police power beyond its territorial borders by banning the sale of wholesome pork and veal products imported into California unless out-of-state farmers restructure their facilities to meet animal-confinement standards dictated by California.”  

In answering that question, NAMI says the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit got it wrong and left circuit courts in a conflict that only the Supreme Court can resolve.

The vast majority of U.S. beef, pork, lamb, veal, and poultry is produced by NAMI members. Other NAMI members manufacture equipment and ingredients used in the industry.

In the decision being appealed,  “the Ninth Circuit rejected a constitutional challenge to a provision of California’s Proposition 12 that bans the sale of wholesome pork and veal imported into California unless farmers in other states and countries spend hundreds of millions of dollars to restructure their facilities to meet unprecedented animal-confinement requirements dictated by California — the ‘Sales Ban,'” NAMI’s petition to the high court says.

“The Ninth Circuit’s decision implicates conflicts with multiple circuit courts, including on the question whether a state may dictate the manner in which commerce occurs outside its borders through a sales ban that imposes obligations on out-of-state residents and usurps the regulatory authority of other states and countries over their own residents,” it continues.

The question presented is exceptionally important— as shown, not least of all, by the amicus curiae briefs filed below by the United States on behalf of the Department of Agriculture, by 20 states, and by the National Association of Manufacturers, Chamber of Commerce, and Food Marketing Institute. Proposition 12 will have a devastating effect on the pork and veal industries and thousands of small and family farmers throughout the nation, who will have their substantial investments in their existing farm facilities upended by California’s unconstitutional effort to dictate from afar the confinement standards for animals raised outside of California’s borders, according to the petition

NAMI CEO Julie Anna Potts says if Prop 12 is allowed, it will result in higher pork, veal and egg prices outside of California, hurting families on a budget, and permitting California to dictate farming practices beyond the state’s borders.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)