[Greeley, CO], March 28, 2022 – The U.S. Supreme Court at its March 25 conference agreed to
hear a case brought by the National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau
Federation (AFBF) against California’s Proposition 12, which bans the sale of pork from hogs born to
sows that weren’t raised according to the state’s “arbitrary” production standards.
“Colorado pork producers are very pleased that the Supreme Court will hear arguments on the
constitutionality of Proposition 12, which imposes regulations on pork production outside of
California,” said Joyce Kelly, Executive Director. “Once the court hears the pork industry’s arguments,
we’re confident it will find that Prop. 12 violates the Constitution’s Commerce Clause, which limits
states’ ability to regulate commerce outside their borders.” “The Colorado Pork Producers Council
has stood four-square behind NPPC’s efforts to preserve the rights of America’s pork producers to
raise our hogs in a way that’s best for them and that lets us continue selling pork to consumers
NPPC has waged a legal battle against the ballot initiative since it was approved in November 2018,
arguing at the U.S. district and appellate court levels that Prop. 12 violates the Constitution’s
Commerce Clause, which grants Congress the power to regulate trade among the states and limits
the ability of states to regulate commerce outside their borders.
The high court is taking up the case on appeal from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit,
which in July upheld a lower court ruling against the NPPC-AFBF lawsuit. The appeals court found
that despite the organizations plausibly alleging that Prop. 12 “will have dramatic upstream effects
and require pervasive changes to the pork industry nationwide,” 9th Circuit precedent didn’t allow the
case to continue. That precedent, however, runs counter to numerous Supreme Court decisions and
is in conflict with nearly every other federal circuit court.
NPPC and AFBF in the coming weeks will file their initial brief with the Supreme Court, which could
hear oral arguments in the fall and should render a decision before the end of the year.
Prop. 12, which took effect Jan. 1, 2022, prohibits in California the sale of pork from hogs whose
mothers were raised in pens – anywhere in the world – that do not comply with the state’s highly
prescriptive housing standards. It applies to any uncooked pork sold in the state, whether produced
there or outside its borders. Nearly all pork currently produced in the United States fails to meet
California’s arbitrary standards. (Business groups in California recently got a state superior court to
delay the effective date of Prop. 12 for 180 days after final implementing regulations are issued.)
“The Colorado Pork Producers Council has stood four-square behind NPPC’s efforts to preserve the
rights of America’s pork producers to raise our hogs in a way that’s best for the animals and that lets
us continue selling pork to consumers everywhere,” Kelly, Executive Director said. “It’s time to get rid
of this ill-conceived, arbitrary and unscientific mandate.”
To continue selling pork to the nearly 40 million consumers who live in California, which represents
about 15 percent of the U.S. pork market, pork producers would need to switch to alternative sow
housing systems. Industry estimates for converting sow barns or building new ones to meet the Prop.
12 standards are in the billions of dollars. Even with farmers bearing most of the costs, consumers in
California and across the nation will eventually see higher pork prices.
In addition to its legal efforts, NPPC weighed in on problems with the initial proposed implementing
regulations for Prop. 12, including an unworkable annual certification of hog farms’ compliance with
the initiative’s requirements. The California Department of Food and Agriculture, which wrote the
regulations, has yet to issue final rules.