By J.D. DAVIDSON
THE CENTER SQUARE
(The Center Square) – An Ohio group joined the fight against a California proposition that it believes imposes illegal regulations on the pork industry across the country.
The Buckeye Institute, a Columbus-based policy group, filed an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court recently in a case filed by the National Pork Producers Council that challenges California’s Proposition 12, saying it violates the Constitution’s Commerce Clause, which restricts states from regulating commerce outside their borders.
California voters overwhelmingly approved the Farm Animal Confinement Proposition in 2018. It mandates space requirements for producers to follow for egg-laying chickens, calves for veal and hogs. It also bans the sale of eggs, pork and veal in California if product confinement standards don’t comply with the new space requirements.
“Not only does California’s Prop 12 violate the U.S. Constitution, but it also undermines the unique American principle of federalism,” said Robert Alt, president and chief executive officer of The Buckeye Institute and a lawyer on the brief. “California’s extraterritorial regulation is incompatible with federalism and is nothing more than an attempt to impose its progressive agenda over the will and judgment of the voters in this country’s more sensible 49 other states – including Ohio.”
The brief said with more than 99% of the pork consumed in California coming from farms outside of that state, the practical effect of California’s Proposition 12 is to regulate out-of-state farmers, including those in Ohio to which The Buckeye Institute objects.
“Ohio has comprehensive livestock care standards, which were adopted after careful consideration by the state’s policymakers and 7 voters,” the brief reads. “The decisions of those policymakers and voters should not be superseded – whether in form or function – by the decisions of another state.”
The American Farm Bureau Federation and National Pork Producers Council sued, and the 9th Circuit ruled against them. Earlier this month, they filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of Proposition 12. Attorneys general from 15 states submitted a brief with the 9th Circuit in support of the plaintiffs and farmers and legislators in other states have spoken out against Prop. 12.
Also, Smithfield Foods, Inc., announced it is closing its Vernon, California, facility and reducing its hog production in the western U.S. region, citing as its reason the “escalating cost of doing business in California.”
Ohio ranks seventh in the nation in pork production, and 21% of all pork raised in the state is exported to other countries, according to the Ohio Livestock Coalition. Food and Agriculture is the state’s top industry, accounting from $124 billion annually to the state’s economy.