Supreme Court Upholds Calif. Law Banning Sale of Confined Pork

May 11, 2023
Top court rejects objections by the National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation.

The U.S. Supreme Court today (May 11) upheld a California law banning the sale of pork from pigs raised in tightly confined spaces, various media reported. The justices rejected arguments from industry groups claiming the law illegally regulates pork producers from other states.

The new law was approved by voters in a 2018 ballot initiative. It prohibits selling within the state pork, veal and eggs from animals whose confinement failed to meet certain minimum space requirements – and regardless of where those animals were raised.

The National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation argued the law violated the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits states from regulating interstate commerce.

The Supreme Court upheld a lower court's decision dismissing the ag groups’ lawsuit. "While the Constitution addresses many weighty issues, the type of pork chops California merchants may sell is not on that list," wrote conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch, who authored the court's ruling and was quoted by Reuters news service.

The law requires pig confinement spaces to be large enough to allow the animals to turn around, lie down, stand up and extend their limbs. Animal rights groups have said some pork producers confine pigs in cages so small that pigs cannot turn around for most of their lives.

About the Author

Dave Fusaro | Editor in Chief

Dave Fusaro has served as editor in chief of Food Processing magazine since 2003. Dave has 30 years experience in food & beverage industry journalism and has won several national ASBPE writing awards for his Food Processing stories. Dave has been interviewed on CNN, quoted in national newspapers and he authored a 200-page market research report on the milk industry. Formerly an award-winning newspaper reporter who specialized in business writing, he holds a BA in journalism from Marquette University. Prior to joining Food Processing, Dave was Editor-In-Chief of Dairy Foods and was Managing Editor of Prepared Foods.

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