Those well-funded animal activists ran a marathon ending Jan. 1 with full implementation of California’s Proposition 12.  The first day of 2024 marks the successful end to more than six years of political efforts.

Proposition 12 was a 2018 ballot measure passed overwhelmingly by California voters.  Prop 12 put unprecedented prohibitions on selling food from farm animals not housed under specific standards.

Prop 12’s egg and veal requirements went into effect some time ago, but the pork provisions, which were to begin last August, were then delayed to allow non-compliant pork to make it through the supply chain.

But after New Year’s Day, 2024, only compliant products can be sold in the Golden State. It means the marathon is over, giving animal activists something to celebrate.

The pork industry fought Proposition 12 the whole way, ending up with the Supreme Court, which ruled states are free to limit meat sales.

“We are thrilled that Proposition 12, the nation’s strongest farm animal protection law, is finally fully implemented. No animal deserves to spend her life in a cage where she’s virtually immobilized,” said Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. “From drafting the ballot initiative to successfully defending the measure in courts up to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Humane Society of the United States has been at the center of fighting for this landmark law.” 

Proposition 12 prohibits producing and selling products in California involving the extreme confinement of mother pigs, egg-laying chickens, and calves used for veal. It bans the use of gestation crates, which are metal cages that are so small they prevent mother pigs from being able to turn around.

During the past six years, opponents of Prop 12 said the measure has caused high egg prices and shortages in California. The state consumes about 13 percent of the U.S. bacon market, which continues to be supplied.

Extreme confinement of animals in our food system carries significant public health risks, according to HSUS

Locking farm animals in tiny cages increases the risk of food safety threats like salmonella and E. coli while increasing the risk of another pandemic. The American Public Health Association, Infectious Diseases Society of America, and Center for Food Safety voiced their support for the constitutionality of Proposition 12. They stated that when mother pigs are locked in crates that prevent them from turning around, their immune systems become severely suppressed.

 This makes both them and their offspring “more susceptible to disease.” These diseases can spread to humans since pigs are “ideal mixing vessels for various strains of influenza virus, including human influenza.”  

After Prop 12 in California, 14 other states have passed similar laws.

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