For the first time, the USDA will report how many hogs are being raised in compliance with animal confinement legislation (ACL), such as Proposition 12 in California. Prop 12 bars the sale of pork produced on farms outside the state that do not provide at least the same amount of floor space for breeding sows as the 24 square feet required in California.
Organic farmers will have stronger and more consistent standards for treatment of their livestock under an animal welfare regulation that could take effect by the end of this year, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday. The rule requires unlimited outdoor access for animals, an industry norm, and prohibits the small enclosed “porches” that some poultry farms have said are sufficient.
While price is the key concern for grocery shoppers at the meat case, a Purdue survey indicates that consumers are more willing to accept higher pork prices if they are the result of meeting animal welfare standards such as California’s Proposition 12, which requires farmers to give breeding sows more room to stand up, lie down, and turn around.
The president of the National Pork Producers Council, which fought California’s Proposition 12 animal welfare law all the way to the Supreme Court, said on Tuesday he won’t convert his Missouri hog farm to satisfy the California rules. Scott Hays told reporters that it wasn’t clear if making the required renovations, meant to give breeding sows more room to move about, would pay off.
Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law legislation banning sow crates and veal-calf stalls that severely restrict the movements of the animals in New Jersey, saying it would ensure humane farming practices. New Jersey is the 15th state to ban sow crates, veal stalls, or "battery" cages for egg-laying hens, said the Humane Society of the United States, which fought for the legislation for years.
With a lawsuit still unresolved, Massachusetts officials agreed in court to wait until Aug. 23 to enforce a state law that requires farmers to provide enough room for veal calves, breeding sows, and egg-laying hens to stand up, lie down, turn around or fully extend their limbs.
Large-scale farmers and ranchers are slightly more optimistic than they were last month that Congress will pass a farm bill this year, but they doubt it will be a vehicle for overturning California’s Proposition 12 animal welfare law, said the Ag Economy Barometer on Wednesday. The pork industry is seeking a legislative override of Prop 12 after losing a Supreme Court challenge to the voter-approved law in May.
Irked by California’s Proposition 12, seven farm-state senators announced legislation on Thursday to prohibit states from regulating agricultural production in other states. Virtually anyone — producer, distributor, trade group, transporter, consumer, and laborer were named in the bill — would be empowered to challenge such regulatory infringement in court and seek financial compensation.
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,” said Bryan Burns of the North American Meat Institute.
In a 5-4 decision on Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a California law that regulates the treatment of sows and other farmed animals and prevents the sale of meat products from other states that do not meet its requirements. The Humane Society of America has called it “the strongest law in the world addressing animal confinement,” while farm interests claim that it interferes with interstate commerce protected by the U.S. Constitution. (No paywall)
The new farm bill should reflect "Americans' concerns and compassion for animals and the environment" with steps that include a ban on new factory farms and encourage more attention to animal welfare, said the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. "Public dollars should not support a cruel, polluting factory farm systems that harms animals, the environment, workers, farmers and rural communities alike."
With varying perspectives, the pharmaceutical industry, the Canadian Pork Council and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker hope to influence the Supreme Court in deciding whether an animal welfare law approved by California voters is an unconstitutional burden on the rest of America. The pork industry and the Justice Department say it is.
Massachusetts officials will wait for a Supreme Court ruling on California’s Proposition 12 animal welfare rules before enforcing similar regulations that would ban the sale of pork from out-of-state farms that do not give hogs enough room to lie down, stand up, fully extend their legs, or turn around freely.
More than four years after the Trump administration nixed the idea, the Biden administration proposed a broad-ranging set of animal welfare rules for organic farms. Producers already are required to provide their animals with year-round access to the outdoors and enough room to stretch their limbs. Agriculture Undersecretary Jenny Moffit said on Friday the proposed regulation would "establish and clarify clear standards for organic livestock and poultry production.”
The Supreme Court agreed on Monday to hear a farm-group challenge that says California's animal welfare rules pose an unconstitutional burden on farmers and consumers throughout the nation. Approved by voters in a landslide in 2018, Proposition 12 requires California farmers to give more room to sows and egg-laying hens, and bars the sale of meat produced on farms outside the state that do not match California's standards.
California cannot enforce Proposition 12 against food retailers until it issues overdue regulations to assure they sell pork only from farms that comply with the animal-welfare law, said a Superior Court judge on Tuesday. The meat industry cheered the ruling, but state officials said pork producers and suppliers are still obliged to obey Prop 12, which took effect on Jan. 1.
More than three years ago, California voters approved Proposition 12, guaranteeing sows, veal calves and egg-laying hens more room to move about and barring the sale of eggs, veal and pork from farms, even in other states, that do not comply with the new standards. The law went into effect on Sunday, although state officials were still working on a final set of regulations.(No paywall)
On Wednesday, two days after state legislators rewrote a voter-approved animal welfare law, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signed the bill into law, averting a possible shortage of eggs and pork. The new law revamps housing standards for egg-laying hens and delays until Aug. 15 a prohibition on the sale of pork products from farms that do not give pigs enough room to lie down, stand up, fully extend their legs or turn around freely.