IFB Board approves opposition to California Prop 12

By Daniel Grant

Can a state impose regulations, such as California’s Proposition 12, that affect the agricultural production practices of all other states in the country?

That’s a controversial question at the heart of an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court filed by the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC).

The Illinois Farm Bureau Board recently approved joining the North Carolina Farm Bureau’s amicus brief in support of the AFBF/NPPC case opposing Prop 12, pending legal review. The brief, also supported by the Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA), argues why the Supreme Court should hear the appeal.

“We’re asking the Supreme Court to consider the constitutionality of one state imposing regulations that reach far outside its borders and stifle interstate and international commerce,” said Jen Sorenson, NPPC president.

Prop 12 will prohibit the sale of pork from hogs whose mothers were raised anywhere in the world in pens that do not comply with California’s animal housing standards. The regulations are set to take effect Jan. 1.

However, the California Department of Food and Agriculture is still in the process of writing the regulations, which have no effect on food safety and actually could increase the mortality rate of sows subject to the new rules.

“It sure sets up a very challenging situation from the production sector to comply with those regulations and for packers to segregate (animals that comply with Prop 12),” Brian Duncan, Illinois Farm Bureau Vice President, recently told the RFD Radio Network.

“Those rules are not consistent with what we know good animal husbandry practices are,” noted Duncan, an Ogle County hog farmer who serves on AFBF’s Livestock Working Group. “And, they are high-cost models, which would make us uncompetitive in the export market. It seems like a real misuse of the ballot initiative.”

The appeal to the high court comes after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in July upheld a lower court ruling against the AFBF/NPPC case.

Generally, the Commerce Clause grants Congress the power to regulate trade among states and restricts states from regulating commerce outside its borders, except for matters related to public safety and health. Prop 12 addresses neither of those issues.

“Supporters of Proposition 12 claimed it would improve animal welfare and food safety. The law fails to address either of those issues,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “This law takes away the flexibility to ensure hogs are raised in a safe environment while driving up the cost of providing food for America’s families.”

This story was provided by FarmWeekNow.com.