Livestock News

North American Meat Institute again speaks out about California’s Prop 12

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The North American Meat Institute has again weighed in against the State of California’s proposed rules for Proposition 12 (Prop 12), a measure that would create minimum requirements to provide more space for veal calves, breeding pigs, and egg-laying hens. The rule is especially alarming because it would not only impact California-based livestock producers but also producers from elsewhere in the U.S. who sold goods to people in California. In comments today to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the meat institute called Prop 12 burdensome, complex, and unworkable, providing no food safety or animal welfare benefit.

“The proposed rule by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) admits there are no benefits to Californians as a result of Prop 12 and admits the deaths of breeding sows will increase,” said Mark Dopp, Meat Institute Senior Vice President Regulatory & Scientific Affairs and General Counsel. “Multiple sections of the rule should be withdrawn or significantly revised.”

This echoes sentiments meat institute president and CEO Julie Anna Potts levied last month in its petition to halt Prop 12.

“Both are unintentional consequences of a costly and unconstitutional law,” she said.

Despite the meat institute’s petition, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a review of Prop 12.

In today’s statement, the meat institute said its 12 pages of comments to CDFA noted that the rules, if finalized, would create a bureaucratic labyrinth of regulatory provisions:

  • requiring an almost unworkable annual certification of veal and breeding pig (sow) facilities;
  • creating an overly complex accreditation process for entities allowed to certify those facilities;
  • imposing detailed recordkeeping requirements on producers and throughout the supply chain;
  • imposing problematic labeling provisions; and
  • granting legally questionable enforcement authority.

The text of the notice and proposed rule, formally known as the Prevention of Cruelty to Farm Animals Act, can be found here.

The following are some of key findings in the notice published along with the proposed rule:

  • Estimated costs for businesses to comply regarding pork: “Estimated ongoing cost is greater than the initial cost of conversion at $100,000 per year for a typical breeding pig farm due to smaller inventory of breeding pigs, lower piglet output per animal and increased breeding pig mortality.”
  • CDFA acknowledges that animal confinement space allowances prescribed in the Act (cage-free for egg-laying hens, 43 square feet for veal calves and 24 square feet for breeding pigs) “are not based in specific peer-reviewed published scientific literature or accepted as standards within the scientific community to reduce human food-borne illness, promote worker safety, the environment, or other human or safety concerns.”
  • “This proposal does not directly impact human health and welfare of California residents, worker safety, or the State’s environment …”

According to PorkBusiness.com, Prop 12 is currently being challenged in a separate lawsuit from the National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation, asking the court to strike down Prop 12 as unconstitutional under the Dormant Commerce Clause. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit heard oral arguments in April and is expected to make a decision in mid-July.

Unfortunately, these Dormant Commerce Clause arguments haven’t been very successful in California’s Ninth Circuit. Similar lawsuits were filed against other ballot initiatives in California, but the courts didn’t buy it.

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