Policy Brief: The impact of California’s Proposition 12 in increasing national production costs and food prices

  1. Californians consume 13 percent of all U.S. pork while raising just one percent of its supply. West Coast pork consumers account for the least amount of pork eaten annually at just 42 pounds per person.
  2. Prop 12 regulations were widely adopted by egg and veal producers. Pork producers filed a lawsuit alleging the law violated the dormant commerce clause and placed an undue financial burden on pig producers.
  3. The Supreme Court of the United States ruled pork producers must comply with the regulations of Prop 12 in May 2023.
  4. The penning rules under Prop 12 require 24-square-feet of space be available for each sow on a hog farm. On an average farm, the estimated investment to retrofit pens is approximately $3.5 million.
  5. The cost of compliance will likely shrink the national hog herd and cause additional consolidation of pork producing farms.

In 2018, voters in California passed Proposition 12, called the Farm Animal Confinement Initiative, by a wide margin. The state law established regulations for housing laying hens, veal calves, and hogs whose food products – eggs, veal, and pork – would be sold in California. Additionally, the regulation prohibited the sale of these animal products if the farmer, stock raiser, or seller knowingly housed the animals in a “cruel” manner, as defined by Proposition 12. The housing requirements included cage-free and free-range designs with minimum floor space allowances per animal.

Proposition 12 also included a specific detail forcing adoption of the rules by every other state in the United States: no eggs, veal, or pork could be sold in California – regardless of place of origin – if California’s housing rules were not followed. California used its enormous political influence to impose its rules on producers in other states. Despite the costly housing requirements, egg and veal producers adopted the regulations of Proposition 12 quickly. Pork producers, 99 percent of whom live outside of California, chose to challenge the regulations. After a lengthy legal battle that ended with the United States Supreme Court upholding Proposition 12’s application to other states, the law has now become the standard that pork producers must obey if they want to sell their products in California.

Click to read the full report at Washington Policy Center

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

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