Vet: Pork Prop 12 Burden Claims False

Veterinarian Tells SCOTUS Pork Industry Can Easily Comply With Proposition 12


By Todd Neeley, DTN/Progressive Farmer 



LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) -- A veterinarian told the Supreme Court in a brief filed on Thursday that the pork industry already has in place systems to allow producers across the country to easily comply with California's Proposition 12.


In briefs filed ahead of oral arguments before the court on Oct. 11, the National Pork Producers Council and others have argued the state's law violates the Commerce Clause of the Constitution by regulating pork producers in other states. Among the arguments made is compliance with the law would require producers to spend billions of dollars to modify hog facilities, all to comply with California's animal-welfare law.


In June, the Biden administration sided with the American Farm Bureau Federation and NPPC in the case and asked the court to throw out the law.


Voters in the state passed Proposition 12 in 2018 with nearly 63% of voters supporting it. The law forbids the sale of whole pork meat in California from hogs born of sows not housed in conformity with the law. Proposition 12 forbids sows from being confined in such a way that they cannot lie down, stand up, fully extend their limbs, or turn around without touching the sides of their stalls or other animals.


Veterinarian Leon Barringer, who formerly worked with the likes of Merck and Pfizer, told the court that industry claims it was "difficult" and also "not currently possible" to trace a cut of pork back to a particular sow housed in a particular way were "facially implausible."


Barringer filed the brief in support of the state of California in the case.


"The pork industry has engaged in tracing and segregation, to varying degrees of sophistication, since at least the early 1900s," the brief said.


"Segregating and tracing pork allows producers to comply with public health and food safety requirements, respond quickly to disease and foodborne illness outbreaks, meet consumer demand for pork produced in certain ways, and market their products effectively. Today, tracing and segregation are highly sophisticated and fully adopted in the industry.


"There is no plausible reason that existing tracing and segregation technology and practices cannot be used to segregate Prop 12-compliant pork from other pork in the pipeline, without any substantial burden to interstate commerce."


Barringer said existing tracing and segregation methods can be used to help Proposition 12 compliance...