California Sued for Violating Constitution with Proposition 12

Brian German Dairy & Livestock, Industry

With some of the provisions of Proposition 12 set to be enforced beginning in 2020, a lawsuit was recently filed to prevent the implementation of the measure known as the Farm Animal Confinement Initiative.  The North American Meat Institute (Meat Institute) has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, challenging the constitutionality of the measure.

Proposition 12“Prop 12 hurts the family on a budget with higher prices for pork, veal and eggs, and unfairly punishes livestock producers outside of California by forcing them to spend millions more just to access California markets,” Meat Institute President and CEO Julie Anna Potts said in a statement. “If this unconstitutional law is allowed to stand, California will dictate farming practices across the nation. California’s overreach creates an unworkable patchwork of differing state regulations that will make it impossible for the supply chain, from small farmers to your local grocer, to function.”

The Meat Institute is the largest trade association for meatpackers and processors in the U.S. with members which include Cargill, Tyson Foods, JBS USA, Target, and Walmart.  The lawsuit points to the Commerce Clause as well as the federal structure of the Constitution as prohibiting extraterritorial regulations.  The Meat Institute is claiming that Proposition 12 creates unnecessary obstacles for interstate commerce by establishing standards that impact all production in the United States as well as other international producers.  

The lawsuit also highlights the economic impact the measure would have by referencing findings from the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO).  A report that was prepared by the nonpartisan LAO found that Proposition 12 would cost the state of California millions of dollars a year for enforcement, compounded by a loss of tax revenue from farm businesses.  The report also projects an increase in consumer prices for products affected by the regulation.

Proposition 12 was approved by California voters in November 2018 with a little more than 60 percent of the vote.  The measure significantly alters the minimum spacing requirements egg, veal, and pork producers that wish to sell products in California.

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Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West