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.
After seven years as chief executive, Laura Batcha plans to leave the Organic Trade Association next spring as the industry enjoys record food sales. With sales of $56.5 billion last year, certified organic food accounts for nearly 6 percent of the total U.S. grocery market.
With California's Proposition 12 animal welfare law set to go into effect on Jan. 1, two farm groups asked the Supreme Court to invalidate the voter-approved standards as an unconstitutional burden on farmers and consumers everywhere. Prop 12 bans the sale of pork products that are produced outside the state but do not match California's rules.
After years of fighting California's voter-approved Proposition 12 in court, meatpackers and the pork industry are asking for more time to comply with its animal welfare requirements. Estimates of the impact on consumers when Prop 12 takes effect on Jan. 1 vary widely, from increased pork costs of $10 per person annually to a warning by a hog-state senator that bacon could cost $17 a pound next year.
The U.S. Supreme Court refused on Monday to hear a meat industry challenge to California's voter-approved Proposition 12, which requires farmers to give sows, veal calves, and egg-laying chickens more room to move about and bans shipments of pork, veal, and eggs produced outside of California if the animals are housed in conditions that do not meet California's standards.
Eleven months after President Trump took office, the USDA said it lacked the authority to implement livestock welfare rules for organic farmers, despite having spent years working on them. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said on Thursday that the USDA will reconsider that 2017 interpretation, a step that could lead to a revival of the regulation to give chickens, pigs, and cattle on organic farms more elbow room than they commonly get on factory farms.
In a ruling hailed as a victory for farm animals, the U.S. appellate court in San Francisco denied a meat industry request for an injunction against California's voter-approved Proposition 12, which guarantees more space for hogs, calves, and chickens to move about. The meat industry contends that Prop 12 and similar state laws violate the so-called commerce clause of the Constitution, though they have failed repeatedly to persuade the courts.
A federal judge handed a victory late Friday to animal-welfare advocates when he declared that much of North Carolina’s ag-gag law violated the First Amendment’s free-speech provisions. U.S. District Court Judge Thomas D. Schroeder’s ruling could also help employees who are trying to expose slaughterhouses that put their workforces at risk for Covid-19 infection, according to an attorney for the plaintiffs.(No paywall)
Nationwide, pork production has dropped by more than 20 percent over the last month, and industrial farmers find their barns filling up. Now, the "end for hundreds of thousands of pigs is likely to arrive in an orgy of waste that turns the stomachs of even the most pragmatic," writes Elizabeth Royte, in FERN's latest story. "Asked to describe how a farmer decides to 'depopulate' — the word of choice — a barn full of market-ready pigs, David Newman, a Missouri pig farmer and president of the National Pork Board, sighs heavily. 'It’s a tremendously emotional time to be in the livestock business. We’re trying to be creative.'”(No paywall)
The government offered to help livestock producers locate contractors skilled in killing herds or flocks of animals and to provide cost-share funding for their disposal because the coronavirus pandemic has shut down packing plants and reduced consumer demand. The National Pork Board held a webinar on Sunday that discussed step by step "emergency depopulation and disposal" of hogs.(No paywall)
The USDA admitted to flaws in the analysis it used to kill a regulation setting animal welfare standards for organic farms, and now faces a Sept. 8 deadline to publish a final rule with the updated cost-benefit analysis. “After these many efforts, the department should move quickly,” wrote U.S. district judge Rosemary Collyer granting voluntary remand to the USDA.
The EPA said on Thursday that although it will allow the continued use of cyanide in the anti-predator M-44 device, it will add safety requirements, including that the devices be placed farther away from residences.
A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction on Monday that will prevent the enforcement of Iowa’s ag-gag law while a challenge to the law proceeds through the courts. Animal and civil rights advocates cheered the ruling as a victory, if a temporary one, in the nation-wide effort to strike …
Under a law signed on Thursday, Michigan will become the largest egg-producing state to require farmers to switch to cage-free egg production. The Humane Society of the United States said the decision “shows just how rapidly American views on the treatment of farm animals are evolving.”