Ag Informer – Meatpackers Hoping to Override Supreme Court Decision

The meat industry encouraged farm-state lawmakers on Wednesday to legislatively override the Supreme Court ruling that gives states the power to set animal welfare standards and regulate meat sales. The Supreme Court decision upholding California’s Proposition 12 “opens the door to chaos” and a welter of state-by-state barriers, said Bryan Burns of the North American Meat Institute.

In a 5-4 ruling last week, the Supreme Court upheld California’s voter-approved Proposition 12, which would require farmers to provide more space for egg-laying hens, veal calves, and breeding sows and would ban the sale of meat and eggs produced on farms outside the state that to not meet California’s standards.

Farm groups challenged Prop 12’s rules on pork and hogs, including a provision to give individual sows 24 square feet of floor space. Hog farmers commonly use sow crates that greatly limit a sow’s movements.

The National Pork Producers Council, whose members include processors, said the impact of the Supreme Court decision “will go far beyond the farm.” And subcommittee chair Rep. Tracey Mann, a Kansas Republican, said the ruling invited “unthinkable, unscientific regulatory overreach against all producers.”

California’s solicitor general, Michael Mongan, said Prop 12 would affect only the farmers who wanted to sell pork in the state. “California voters chose to pay higher prices to serve their local interest in refusing to provide a market to products they viewed as morally objectionable and potentially unsafe,” he said.

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