SCOTUS California Prop 12 Decision to Have National Impact

Agriculture groups claim it sets a dangerous precedent moving forward

WASHINGTON — On May 11, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling on California’s Proposition 12, choosing to uphold the legality of the measure — a decision that was met with disappointment by many in U.S. agriculture, claiming it sets a dangerous precedent for animal agriculture moving forward.

The case involves a challenge to a California law known as Proposition 12, which forbids the in-state sale of pork that comes from breeding pigs, or their immediate offspring, that are “confined in a cruel manner.” In the law, confinement is “cruel” if it prevents a pig from “lying down, standing up, fully extending [its] limbs, or turning around freely.”

Proposition 12 proponents suggest the law benefits animal welfare and consumer health, while opponents claim existing farming practices do better than Proposition 12 in protecting animal welfare by, for example, preventing pig-on-pig aggression and ensuring consumer health by avoiding cross contaminations. The law was passed in California in 2018 but has been held up in legal battles leading up to this Supreme Court decision.

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