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Supreme Court upholds Prop 12, could affect Indiana pork producers

Indiana is the fifth-largest pork-producing state in the nation. California consumes 13 percent of the country’s pork, with 99.9% coming from outside the state’s borders.
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Indiana is the fifth-largest pork-producing state in the nation. California consumes 13 percent of the country’s pork, with 99.9% coming from outside the state’s borders.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday chose to uphold Proposition 12, a California law allowing the state the right to block the sale of pork from out of state producers if they don’t abide by certain regulations.

Justice Neil M. Gorusch wrote for the majority in the 5-4 decision that, “While the Constitution addresses many weighty issues, the type of pork chops California merchants may sell is not on that list.”

He also rejected what he called a request of the court to “fashion two new and more aggressive constitutional restrictions on the ability of States to regulate goods sold within their borders.”

Read more: How the case of National Pork Producers v. Ross could affect Hoosiers

Randy Kron, President of the Indiana Farm Bureau, released the following statement:

“While we still don’t know how these new regulations will be implemented, it’s disappointing that one state, California, can dictate how the rest of the country raises its livestock. Livestock producers, and their processors, will have to determine if they want to serve the California market. If they do, they will adapt and adjust their operations to meet these new requirements. Farmers are resilient.”

Proposition 12, or the Farm Animal Confinement Initiative, was voted into California law in 2018 and went into effect this January. The law seeks to protect animals raised on factory farms from confined cages, increasing the minimum space requirements necessary to sell various animal products in the state.

In 2019, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) challenged Prop 12 citing the Commerce Clause in the U.S. Constitution. The Commerce Clause states that “Congress shall have power to regulate commerce … among the several states.” NPPC argued that since California imports most of its pork, the law effectively reaches across state borders and regulates out-of-state producers.

Indiana is the fifth-largest pork-producing state in the nation. California consumes 13 percent of the country’s pork, with 99.9 percent coming from outside the state’s borders. The ruling on this case is bound to have effects on Hoosier pork farmers.

Read more: Supreme Court hears oral arguments in case over a California animal welfare law