Court Issues a Stay of Enforcement for Proposition 12 Provisions

Brian GermanHogs & Pork, Regulation

California officials will not be enforcing the guidelines for animal welfare established in Proposition 12 after a recent court ruling. The Superior Court for Sacramento County has postponed enforcement until 180 days after the final rules go into effect. The decision applies to the pork sales provisions of Prop 12 which came into effect on January 1, 2022. A stay of enforcement was issued due to a lack of finalized regulations issued by the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

“Judge Arguelles’ decision recognizes the complexity of the pork supply chain and the burdensome and costly provisions of Prop 12,” President and CEO of the North American Meat Institute, Julie Anna Potts said in a press release. “To enforce the law without final regulations leaves the industry unsure of how to comply or what significant changes must be made to provide pork to this critical market.”

Proposition 12

The petitioners, which included the California Grocers Association, California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, and the California Retailers Association, had initially sought a 28-month delay in enforcement. While the judge agreed that a delay was warranted, a six-month period was ultimately found to be appropriate.

According to the decision, “the court must be mindful of the Act’s concern about cruel confinements, and the enforcement delay must not exceed a period that is necessary.” Once the regulation is finalized, both parties will have an opportunity to return to court to seek adjustment to the timeline for enforcement.

“Today’s ruling is another example of inherent flaws in Proposition 12,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall. “AFBF is pleased the Sacramento County Superior Court recognized that the state of California has rushed implementation of Proposition 12 without clear rules on how it will be enforced. California voters were told the law would improve animal welfare and food safety, but it fails to accomplish either of those goals.”