WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court will hear arguments about a California animal cruelty law that could raise the cost of bacon and other pork products nationwide.
The outcome of the case is important for the country’s pork industry, worth $26 billion a year, but the outcome could also limit states’ ability to pass laws that impact outside their borders. , from laws aimed at combating climate change to others aimed at regulating prescription drugs. prices.
The case in court on Tuesday concerns California’s Proposition 12, which voters passed in 2018. It said pork sold in the state must come from pigs whose dams were raised with at least 24 square feet of space, including the ability to lie down and turn around. This excludes confined “gestation crates”, metal enclosures common in the swine industry.
Two industry groups, the Iowa-based National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation, have pursued this proposal. They say that while Californians consume 13% of the pork consumed in the United States, almost 100% of it comes from pigs raised outside the state, mainly where the industry is concentrated in the Midwest and Carolina. North. The vast majority of sows, meanwhile, are not raised in conditions that would meet Proposition 12 standards.
The question for the High Court is whether California has unconscionably burdened the pork market and improperly regulated an industry outside its borders.
Hog producers say 72% of farmers use individual pens for sows that don’t allow them to turn around, and even farmers who house sows in larger pens don’t provide the space California needs. .
They also say the way the pork market works, with meat cuts from various producers combined before sale, it’s likely that all pork should meet California standards, regardless of where it’s sold. Complying with Proposition 12 could cost the industry $290 million to $350 million, they say.
So far, lower courts have sided with California and animal welfare groups that had backed the proposal. But for a number of reasons, the law has not yet entered into force.
The Biden administration, for its part, is urging judges to side with pork producers. The administration says Proposition 12 would be a “radical change in the way pork is raised and marketed in this country.” And he says the proposal has “thrown a giant wrench into the workings of the interstate pork market.”
California Proposition 12 also covers other animals. It states that laying hens and calves reared for veal should be raised in conditions in which they have enough space to lie down, stand up and turn around freely. These parts of the law are not at issue in the case.
The case is National Pork Producers Council v. Ross, 21-468.
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