The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the pork industry’s lawsuit that attempts to overturn California’s Proposition 12. Special interest groups have been trying to stop the implementation of the historic ballot measure, which passed in 2018 with 63% of California voters in support.
Proposition 12 banned the intensive confinement of egg-laying chickens, mother pigs and calves used in the veal industry. It also prohibited the sale in California of eggs, pork and veal from facilities that use those practices.
We remain confident that the Supreme Court will reaffirm states’ legal authority to pass a law that prevents cruelty to animals, improves food safety and protects public health.
In the face of almost every push for social progress, powerful interests will do just about anything to maintain the status quo. We knew this when we took up the challenge of securing voter approval for Proposition 12 and defeated the meat industry’s efforts to stop it in the first place. From the law’s conception through every stage of legal challenge, we have overcome the industry’s opposition, and we’re ready and fired up to keep the fight for farm animals going on all fronts.
Many veal and egg producers have changed their practices in anticipation of Proposition 12’s implementation on Jan. 1 this year, leading to tens of millions of animals being able to live cage-free, stretch their limbs and fulfill more of their behavioral needs. Many of the largest pork producers—including Perdue, Tyson, Hormel and Clemens Food Group—have publicly stated that they are planning to comply with the law and supply the California market with pork that comes from animals given more space. Meanwhile, some in the pork industry have resisted, opting not to sell their products in California.
However, there are other producers so deeply wedded to the extreme confinement of pigs that they’ve been willing to risk time, money and their reputations to avoid compliance with the law and the will of voters. They spent their resources on lawsuits rather than retrofitting and modernizing their operations to offer pigs the simple grace of being able to turn around.
The pork industry has had a hard time accepting public sentiment when it comes to treating animals humanely. As Hog Farm Management, a trade publication, once instructed producers: “Forget the pig is an animal’’ and instead treat her “just like a machine in a factory.” This is way out of step with the convictions of millions of Americans who are horrified that mother pigs would be confined for years on end in cages barely larger than their own bodies, unable to even turn around.
We look forward to a decision by the nation’s highest court that will ensure more humane treatment of farm animals and validate the legal understanding that we and our animal protection allies used in the campaign to pass Proposition 12 and related measures.
We will not rest idle while the Supreme Court deliberates, either, for a related fight to protect farm animals is playing out in the U.S. Congress, as we mobilize opposition to the EATS Act, a shocking proposal designed to wipe out state laws that ban the cruel cage confinement of egg-laying hens, mother pigs and baby veal calves, and poses threats to progress for animals, consumers, the environment and other concerns. We’re going to double down on our efforts to derail this dangerous measure.
We’ll also be working hard to encourage the Biden administration to support California’s right to legislate for humane standards.
You can advance the campaign for a more humane world for farm animals by supporting our work with a donation to defend laws like Proposition 12 across the country. Taking on billion-dollar agribusiness industries is not easy, but the chance to do better for the animals, with your help, is the strongest possible motivation. Together, let’s keep up the fight.
Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.