Processors Fight State Animal Welfare Laws

Dec. 22, 2021
Egg and pork producers are desperately trying to fend off animal welfare laws that are about to start being enforced in Massachusetts and California.

Egg and pork producers are desperately trying to fend off, or at least mitigate the effects of, animal welfare laws that are about to start being enforced in Massachusetts and California.

At issue are laws that require hogs and hens to have a statutory minimum of room to move around before their meat and eggs can be sold in those states. They apply to all products sold, even if they originated from outside the state. The laws are scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 1. Producers have argued that they place an unfair burden and will lead to shortages.

In Massachusetts, the state legislature revised a measure that voters had passed in 2016 setting a minimum size for cages for laying hens. The requirement was reduced to 1 sq. ft. per bird from 1.5 sq. ft. The legislature also delayed the implementation of a space requirement for hogs for seven months. The measure was passed and referred to Gov. Charlie Baker on Dec. 20.

In California, a coalition of restaurants and grocery stores has sued to prevent implementation of Proposition 12, a measure to provide minimum space and living conditions for hogs. The measure, passed by voters in 2018, has been consistently assailed by industry.

The California Grocers Association, California Restaurant Association and other groups, plus a meat processor, sued the state in November, alleging that the state agriculture department had failed to issue sufficient regulations for compliance with Proposition 12.

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