Until early next year, California is considering the Proposition 12 products already in the pipeline.   After that, the state plans to close its market to pork products from locations that don’t comply with California animal housing standards.

Last May, the U.S. Supreme Court found that California Proposition 12, banning pork products from pigs housed in cages or group pens that are too crowded, did pass Constitutional muster. The majority opinion upheld California’s “ethical pork” law because the state has the right to say what products can be sold within its boundaries. 

Companies that choose to sell products in various States must normally comply with the laws of those various states,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote. “While the Constitution addresses many weighty issues, the type of pork chops California merchants may sell is not on that list.”

Congress could still put the breaks on Prop 12, but time is running out.

The vehicle for stopping Prop 12 was to be the EATS Act, short for “Ending Agricultural Trade Suppression.”  It was sponsored by Sen. Roger Marshall, R-KS, and Rep Ashley Hinson, R-IA. 

However, the EATS Act may potentially disrupt animal housing striations and a wide range of state and local regulations governing agriculture. And EATS Act opponents are numerous.

The latest development is an alternative to the EATS Act that is drawn as a more narrow solution.  Sen. Josh Hawley, R-MO, introduced the Protecting Interstate Commerce for Livestock Producers Act.

Hawley says his bill will protect farmers from costly regulations – made in other states – that will hurt their business and drive up consumer costs. His bill is focused only on livestock.

California voters in 2018 approved Proposition 12 to ban the sale of pork, eggs and calves for veal not produced with certain space requirements.

California accounts for 13 percent of all pork consumption in the United States. 

When Prop 12 goes into full effect early next year, farmers across the country – including in Missouri – must comply with California’s requirements to access the California market.

“Missouri’s livestock producers keep food on the table across America and costly laws shouldn’t burden them – made by other states – that disrupt interstate commerce, drive-up costs, and impose crippling regulations,” said Hawley. “This law is a commonsense solution to protect family farms from going bankrupt and consumers from shouldering higher costs at the grocery store.”

To ensure that no state can mandate animal welfare standards in another state, Senator Hawley’s Protecting Interstate Commerce for Livestock Producers Act:

  • Preempts states and local governments from regulating the raising, production, and importation of livestock or livestock-derived goods from another state or local government;
  • Allows states to regulate the importation of livestock in the event of animal disease; and
  • Protects farmers from states implementing laws that are preempted by this bill.

View the entire bill text here.

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