SCOTUS hears California food fight case

pig in pig farm
pig in pig farm(AP)
Published: Oct. 11, 2022 at 3:09 PM CDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The United States Supreme Court deciding to referee a food fight Tuesday.

On the menu, arguments about whether a California law regulating how pork, veal and eggs are sold in the state is too much of a burden for other states to comply with.

There was a lot of skepticism from justices as well about whether California’s law hamstrings how other states bring home their bacon in more than two hours of arguments before the nation’s highest court.

63 percent of Californians approved a ballot initiative, Proposition 12, in 2018 banning the sale of pork within the state, regardless of where the pigs are raised, if breeding pigs do not have 24 square feet to move around in their stalls.

The National Pork Producers Council and American Farm Bureau Federation say that is excessively burdensome because nearly all pork sold in California comes from out of state while Californians make up 13 percent of the nation’s pork consuming market.

“They’re passing a law that has no impact on their own businesses, and is designed entirely to impact farmers all across the country to change the national market for pork,” said Michael Formica, NPPC chief legal strategist.

California officials say if you do not like it, do business elsewhere. Animal advocates say animals built to move should be allowed to move.

“These animals are confined so severely that they cannot even turn around. This is a moral question, but there’s also a derivative problem, which is when you inhumanely treat animals, food safety problems result,” said Animal Wellness Action President Wayne Pacelle.

The Court will decide if increased compliance costs are a significant burden on interstate commerce. Lower courts have said they are not. The justices raised several questions including the morality of the situation as well what will happen if other states will challenge laws they do not like in other states based on commerce.

“If the simple act of a state law affecting other states commerce is going to be the test, we’re really going to lose a lot of our regulatory standards,” said Jonathan Lovvorn, Chief Legal Counsel for the Humane Society of the United States.

Several justices also hinting at the idea of Congress addressing this issue and not the Court. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has introduced a bill doing just that but there is little time left between now and the end of the year to get the bill over the finish line.