The United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa has ruled against the Iowa Pork Producers Association and several industrial pork producers in their challenge to California’s Proposition 12, a ballot measure passed in 2018 with roughly two-thirds of the vote. The Humane Society of the United States led the campaign to pass Proposition 12, a modest measure that ensures egg-laying chickens, mother pigs and calves used for veal can stand up, lie down, turn around and extend their limbs, and provides minimum space requirements to allow the animals to move.  

Proposition 12 addresses the extreme cruelty by some in the pork industry that confine mother pigs in cages so small they can never turn around for nearly their entire lives. The law also bans the intensive confinement of chickens in the egg industry and calves raised in veal production. Proposition 12 covers the production and sale of pork, eggs and veal in California.

The Iowa pork producer plaintiffs sued the state of California, but District Court Judge C.J. Williams dismissed the case, holding that it was improper for the producer plaintiffs to bring this case against the California defendants in the Iowa court. Accordingly, Judge Williams also denied the plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction to stop Proposition 12 from going into effect.

“We are delighted with the news from Iowa,” said Rebecca Cary, senior staff attorney at the Humane Society of the United States. “The pork industry is in a sad state: it wastes producer money filing multiple losing lawsuits just to continue its cruel abuse of locking mother pigs in cages barely larger than their own bodies, unable to even turn around. These are intelligent, social animals who are forced to endure years of suffering and pain. We applaud the many farmers who are treating animals better and are already in compliance with Proposition 12’s modest standards.”

This decision comes right after the rejection of two other meat industry challenges to Proposition 12: one in the United States 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and the other in the United States Supreme Court.

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