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California's Unconstitutional 'Bacon Ban'

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Earlier than Californians accepted Proposition 12 in 2018, the measure’s opponents warned that it will successfully ban the sale of bacon within the Golden State.

That was a little bit of a stretch. Prop. 12, which was supported by 63 % of voters, outlawed the sale of pork or hen merchandise (together with eggs) except they have been produced by farms that complied with new minimal house necessities for every animal. The Humane Society of the USA, which backed the initiative, calls it the world’s strongest legislation defending the welfare of cattle.

When the brand new guidelines took impact on January 1, 2022, bacon was not banned from the state, however Californians had trigger for concern. California consumes about 13 % of the pork eaten in the USA yearly however produces solely about 0.3 % of the nationwide provide. When the brand new guidelines kicked in, a lot of the bacon from different states was all of the sudden unlawful in California.

Prop. 12 additionally raised a constitutional concern. In a lawsuit that would find yourself earlier than the U.S. Supreme Court docket later this yr, the Nationwide Pork Producers Council (NPPC) argues that the initiative violates the Dormant Commerce Clause. As a result of the Structure provides Congress sole authority to control interstate commerce, that doctrine says, states are prohibited from imposing guidelines on companies past their very own borders. It definitely looks like Prop. 12 is an try to try this.

“The pork business is a extremely built-in interstate market the place a pig farmer in North Carolina would possibly promote his inventory to a meat packer in Illinois, who then distributes to California,” notes Trevor Burrus, a analysis fellow on the libertarian Cato Institute, which filed an amicus transient supporting the NPPC’s argument. “It’s extremely tough to hint a given minimize of meat again to its supply and confirm that the farmer complied with California legislation.” And beneath the Dormant Commerce Clause,  Burrus says, a farmer in North Carolina shouldn’t need to adjust to one other state’s legal guidelines.

Prop. 12 additionally may imply greater costs for shoppers, and never simply in California. As a result of a lot pork consumed in California is produced elsewhere, farmers throughout the nation might have little alternative however to adjust to the state’s guidelines. The query for the Supreme Court docket is whether or not the remainder of the nation ought to need to adjust to a coverage accepted by 7.5 million voters in a single state.

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