The Proposition 12 deadline is going to require a significant amount of change in production systems in a seemingly short timeframe. Egg and veal producers will only have until 2020 to overhaul their facilities to conform to the new spacing standards. Hog farmers will have until 2022 to meet the new requirements. American producers that do not update their farming operations will no longer be allowed to sell their products in California.
“The biggest concern that producers have is the deadline, it is a very aggressive 2022 deadline, which would be a massive shift in the industry so it’s uncertain whether that’s actually realistic,” said Vice President of Communications with the Animal Agriculture Alliance Hannah Thompson-Weeman. “Then there’s also some concerns about food affordability, is this going to drive up costs, and potentially food scarcity. If producers can’t meet these deadlines and their products can’t be sold in California what does that mean for California shoppers?”
Approved by voters in 2008, Proposition 2 established new floor space requirements for egg production. Since then, other U.S. producers have been anxiously monitoring what is happening in California in regard to animal welfare standards. “A lot of producers and organizations in agriculture kind of saw this as being inevitable,” said Thompson-Weeman. “Proposition 12 takes it a step further. It applies those standards to all producers across the country who sell in California.”
As farmers all over the U.S. prepare to make the necessary changes required by the Proposition 12 deadline, there will undoubtedly be several lawsuits centering on the legality of California voters being allowed to dictate how other states can farm. “It brings some questions about the Interstate Commerce Clause. Is that allowed, is that something they should be able to do? Which is something that is coming up in the farm bill with the King Amendment, so this debate will continue,” Thompson-Weeman noted.