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NAMI to Challenge California Proposition #12


Here we are again.  The North American Meat Institute (NAMI) has filed a lawsuit in the District Court for the Central District of California challenging the constitutionality of California Proposition #12.  The Institute has requested an injunction to halt implementation of the legislation enacted by ballot. NAMI claims that the space requirement for veal calves and gestating sows violates certain clauses of the U.S. Constitution.  This approach was litigated ad nauseum for Proposition #2 with respect to eggs and was upheld by by federal courts.


Proposition #12 adopted by California voters relates to sale of livestock products in the state.  Accordingly producers in other states intending to ship to California must adhere to the same standards as producers in California.


In a press release, the president and CEO of NAMI, Julie Potts stated, “If this unconstitutional law is allowed to stand, California will dictate farming practices across the nation.”  She added, “California overreach creates an unworkable patchwork of differing state regulations that will make it impossible for the supply chain, for small farmers or local grocer to function.” It should be accepted by Ms. Potts that California does effectively dictate farming practices with respect to products but only with respect to items sold in California.


There is little or no public support for veal crates or for confining sows during gestation.  Most of the hog integrators have transitioned to group housing for sows to comply with customers’ requirements. The owners of small family farms are reluctant to invest in new equipment to upgrade facilities or to change traditional farming practice despite their obsolescence. The train has left the station. Supermarkets, QSRs and restaurants have committed not to accept pork derived from systems confining sows during gestation. This market reality has effectively invalidated any opposition to Proposition #12 by NAMI.


The Organization should recognize that the egg industry has adapted to the housing requirements mandated by Proposition #2 and is working towards compliance wit Proposition #12 by erecting cage-free units in California. Producers in supplying states have also made capital investments to comply with California requirements.