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.
An undercover investigation by the farm animal welfare group Mercy For Animals recorded multiple instances of animal abuse and extreme confinement on Tosh Farms, a pork producer and supplier to JBS, the largest meat company in the world. The investigation coincides with an approaching ballot measure in California that would outlaw such practices for products sold in the state.
Eleven months into the Trump administration, the Agriculture Department decided it lacks statutory authority to implement the livestock welfare rules that is wrote for organic farmers, and will announce today that it is killing the regulation. Groups representing conventional agriculture cheered the decision, which was disclosed at the end of last week, while the organic industry and its allies in Congress said USDA disregarded public sentiment and "could damage a marketplace that is giving American farmers a profitable alternative."
The 2016 general election can be split into sectors of interest for food and agriculture issues: state referendums on agricultural issues; four municipal referendums on soda taxes, and three House races in which the food movement targeted Republican incumbents.
In a new book, "The Humane Economy," Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States, says that in widely different industries, from agriculture and tourism to medicine and beauty products, consumers' purchasing power is prompting companies to improve their animal-welfare standards, says Civil Eats.
Large-scale hog farms typically put sows in metal cages for almost their entire lives in the name of efficient pork production. Pennsylvania producer Clemons Food Group is trying a different approach that reduces the time in "sow crates" to 75 days a year — not hog heaven but a step in the right direction, says Modern Farmer.
New Jersey Gov Chris Christie vetoed a bill to ban sow crates, "a move that will win favor with Iowa farmers and spark more speculation about Christie's presidential aspirations but cause outrage among animal rights activists who pushed for the ban," says CNN.
The world's largest pork producer, Smithfield Foods Inc, says more than 70 percent of its pregnant sows are in group housing, part of a shift from so-called sow crates that limit their movement, says Associated Press.
In response to customer pressure, Cargill "intends to phase out all individual stalls from its...hog production system by the end of 2017," says the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.