Controversial meat law comes into effect in California

Posted: 4 January 2024 | | No comments yet

California’s controversial “Proposition 12” has come into full effect after a six month delay expired this week.

california capitol

Proposition 12 entered Californina law fully this week after a six-month delay

California’s “Proposition 12” came into full effect this week in what some of its supporters have called “the nation’s strongest farm animal protection law”.

Despite significant opposition both from within California itself and indeed the rest of the US, the bill means that the sale of some meat products produced via “extreme confinement” will be banned in the state. Pork, egg and veal products are affected by the bill, which was passed by voters back in 2018. Amid multiple high-profile legal challenges, including one that went all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States, the bill has survived and has wide-reaching implications for meat producers not just on the West Coast, but across all 50 states.

The ascent of the bill has been celebrated by supporters, including the Humane Society of the United States, which had a major hand of bringing the bill to fruition. “We are thrilled that Proposition 12, the nation’s strongest farm animal protection law, is finally fully implemented. No animal deserves to spend her life in a cage where she’s virtually immobilised,” said Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States.

“From drafting the ballot initiative to successfully defending the measure in courts all the way up to the US Supreme Court, the Humane Society of the United States has been at the center of fighting for this landmark law.”

According to Block, the bill has had limited impact for the biggest producers of the products affected. “It’s also telling that some of the largest companies in the pork industry have not signaled concern about rising prices in this regard. Hormel Foods, Clemens Food Group, Perdue and Tyson Foods have all issued statements saying that they are ready to meet demand for crate-free pork produced in accordance with Proposition 12 standards,” she said.

The bill had been scheduled to come into effect midway through 2023, but this was delayed until 31 December 2023 as the Californian Department of Food and Agriculture “understands there will necessarily be a period of transition”.

There may be further legal challenges to come for Proposition 12 though, as US legislators look to include the Ending Agricultural Trade Suppression (EATS) Act in the upcoming Farm Bill. This piece of legislation would prevent “states and local jurisdictions from interfering with the production and distribution of agricultural products in interstate commerce, and for other purposes”.

US meat producers will have to wait to see if other states will have the ability to follow California’s precedent in 2024 and beyond.

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