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Ensuring fair domestic market access

Ensuring fair domestic market access

15 states are supporting a challenge to California’s Prop. 12

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

More than a dozen states have signed onto a brief supporting two ag organizations that are challenging California over a state law that would affect sectors of the U.S. ag industry.

Attorneys general from 15 states including Iowa, Oklahoma, Missouri and Nebraska are supporting the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) who in December 2019 filed a legal challenge against California’s Proposition 12.

Prop. 12, which California passed in November 2018, sets out standards that, if not followed, would disqualify certain livestock products from being sold in the state regardless of where the animal was raised.

By 2022, for example, for pigs to be sold in California, they would have to come from a U.S. farm that provides a minimum space requirement of 24 square feet per pig. And any laying hens must come from a cage-free farm to qualify for sale in the state.

These kinds of market access requirements would affect farmers and consumers, one attorney general said.

“For farmers and ranchers to comply would be a major financial burden for (affected) producers that would translate into significantly higher prices at the grocery store,” Mike Hunter, Oklahoma’s attorney general, said in a March 10 statement. “Adding more red tape, like California’s Proposition 12, would make (the farming) way of life next to impossible.”

NPPC and AFBF are challenging that Prop. 12 is unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause, which prevents states from discriminating against one another.

“You can’t have one state stopping the commerce and goods from another state,” Michael Formica, assistant vice-president of domestic affairs and counsel with NPPC, told “Prop. 12 was designed to be enforced against hog farms located outside of California.”

The court proceedings are underway.

Those in favor of Prop. 12, including the Humane Society of the United States, have filed a motion to dismiss.

The ag organizations and the attorneys general argue that this challenge should be heard.

“We filed our opposition to the motion to dismiss, then the state attorneys general came in one week later to say that they support us and that this case shouldn’t be dismissed and that it should go forward,” Formica said.

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California is due to reply on the motion to dismiss on Monday.


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