The United States is backing the National Pork Producers Council and American Farm Bureau Federation in a lawsuit seeking to invalidate California’s Proposition 12, which would ban the sale of pork from hogs raised without minimum square-feet requirements.

In a brief filed in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the federal government says the goal of the measure, approved by nearly 63% of voters in 2018, “is to prevent animal cruelty in other states,” but that California “does not identify any in-state harm caused by the use of prohibited practices elsewhere and has deliberately declined to argue that Proposition 12 protects California consumers.”

NPPC and AFBF contend the law violates the Constitution’s Commerce Clause by attempting to regulate businesses outside of California’s borders.

The sales ban, the government says, “dictates to out-of-state farmers how they must confine pigs and requires them to forsake more efficient and cost-effective farming practices permitted in their home states.”

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Twenty state attorneys general also filed a brief backing NPPC and AFBF, along with other industry groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, FMI-The Food Industry Association and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

“A sow can only be housed one way at a given time, so if a farmer, feeder, finisher, processor, wholesaler, or retailer is located in a state that imposes a conflicting mandate … it will be forced to choose between complying with its home-state regulation or Proposition 12,” those groups said in their brief.

Another challenge to the ballot measure filed by the North American Meat Institute has been stayed pending resolution of the NPPC/AFBF complaint, which was dismissed at the district court level.

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