Supreme Court Takes Up California’s Attempt To Control How Other States’ Farmers Treat Pigs

California’s state can control the way that pig farmers from other states raise their animals. The Supreme Court has said that it would weigh in on this matter.

California voters approved Proposition 12 on the ballot in 2018, which prohibited the sale and purchase of pork, chicken, or other livestock that was not allowed to move freely in their pens. Californians consume a lot of pork (13% of American consumption), yet the state only produces.31% of America’s national supply. Proposition 12 led to significant cost-savings and regulations on California farms.

The National Pork Producers Council filed suit against the State, claiming that Proposition 12 was in violation of the dormant Commerce clause. This constitutional doctrine prohibits states from imposing rules that affect interstate commerce.

The Supreme Court’s precedent since 1970 Pike v. Bruce Church Inc.According to, regulations that restrict the shipping conditions of food products can cause over-burdening and can lead to violations of the commerce clause. These restrictions can result in significant costs for producers while providing little benefit. The NPPC is relying upon that decision, and other similar decisions to claim that Prop. 12 is inadmissible.

Rob Bonta, the California Attorney General, is supporting the proposal (as well as the Humane Society of the United States). Bonta also noted that the law does not discriminate (it treats pork producers in the state the same way as producers out of the state) as well as citing top pork producers such as Tyson and Hormel that they believe that they can continue meeting the demands of Californian consumers. Bonta claims that the petitioners did not allege that this restriction caused “massive, costly alteration.”[s]”Or “disrupt”[ed]Supply and demand are both national.

However, pork prices have risen significantly for Americans due to inflation. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that consumer prices increased by about 7 percent between 2020 and 2021. The retail prices of bacon rose by 23.7 per cent at that time. California is not the only state where bacon prices are significantly different from Florida. Instacart shows that a pound Oscar Mayer bacon will cost $11.49 in Los Angeles supermarkets. The exact same Oscar Mayer slab is available at a Wal-Mart Orlando in Florida for $6.98

Bonta claims that California voters were told that Proposition 12 would drive up pork prices and they voted for it regardless. Yes. True enough. But Californians didn’t vote.

Cato Institute, libertarian and independent thinker has filed an amicus curiae brief in support of the pork industry. The brief notes that California is charging producers hundreds of thousands to build compliant housing for their pigs. But it does not provide any proof that large cages actually improve animal welfare or lower the likelihood of foodborne illness. Brief:

California could certify that pork producers in state have raised their pork in a humane manner. California consumers would be free to make their choice between pork produced in their states and imported pork through interstate commerce. California would benefit from such regulations regulating intrastate pork production while not burdening interstate trade. California cannot presume to dictate agricultural practices across the United States. That power belongs to the U.S. Congress. Not the California people.

Prop. 12 Cato points out that “7.5 Million Californian voters” will be able to successfully project their moral values onto the whole American population. It is possible that many of these voters would have loved to done this, but it is not allowed by the Constitution.