Supreme Court to Rule on California Hog Law

March 28, 2022
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal from pork producers who are fighting a California law mandating minimal humane standards for hogs.

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal from pork producers who are fighting a California law mandating minimal humane standards for hogs.

After losing in lower federal courts, the National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation petitioned the Supreme Court to take up the case involving Proposition 12. Passed by California voters in 2018, Prop 12 bans the sale of pork in that state unless it was produced from hogs that were raised according to humane standards. A major focus was the practice of using “gestation crates” that allowed pregnant sows barely enough room to move; under Prop 12, breeding sows must have at least 24 sq. ft. of space within their enclosures.

Because Prop 12 applies to all meat sold in California, no matter where it comes from, opponents argue that it violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. A federal appeals court rejected that argument in July.

The Supreme Court issued a brief notice on March 28 granting a writ of certiorari, meaning that they intend to take up the case. No timeframe or other details were announced.

Prop 12 has been the subject of other legal challenges. In July, a state judge put its enforcement on hold until the state agriculture department issues final regulations for it.

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