Commerce clause: New California law mandates sizes of pig pens in other states



A new law going into effect in California Jan. 1 that mandates space requirements for pigs, cows and chickens has some livestock farmers on edge.  

Proposition 12 prohibits sales in California of pork, veal and eggs from livestock whose confinement doesn’t meet certain minimum space rules. Those rules mandate hog pens to be large enough for an animal to turn around.

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the law, ruling 5-4 that “while the Constitution addresses many weighty issues, the type of pork chops California merchants may sell is not on that list.”

“The Supreme Court decision in National Pork Producers Council v. Ross, affirming the constitutionality of Proposition 12, a law setting standards for the sale of certain animal products in California, was the greatest legal victory in animal protection history,” said Bernard Unti, senior principal strategist with the Humane Society of the United States.

The National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation contend the requirements violate the constitution’s Commerce Clause because California represents less than one-sixth of domestic demand and sources most of its pork from other states.

In the face of Prop 12, producers are finding themselves at a difficult crossroads. They can either comply with a law they say could risk the health and safety of their livestock, or they’ll lose out on market access in California.

Tasha Bunting, Illinois Farm Bureau director of Commodity Programs and Food Systems, said the law would be a big burden on farmers in Illinois and other large pork-producing states such as Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and North Carolina.  

“This is an added cost that will limit the number of sows that they are able to house,” Bunting told The Center Square. “Also, if they are trying to redesign barns, those added costs would definitely be challenging for our producers right now.”  

The Illinois Pork Producers Association estimates it will cost $3,500 per sow to upgrade infrastructure to become Prop 12 compliant, a cost they warn would be passed onto the consumer. 

Other opponents argue that group housing would result in worse health outcomes for sows because there would be more fighting and biting between the animals. 

In addition to Prop 12 in California, 14 states have passed similar legislation addressing farm animal containment. 

Some are calling on the U.S. Congress to enact national legislation on farm animal welfare issues within the next five years to pre-empt differing state laws, and set national standards for the well-being of many agricultural animals, including dairy cows, cattle and chickens.

“One area dictating how farmers produce the products that they raise in another part of the country and that can cause a lot of concern over a patchwork of different regulations that our farmers have to adhere to,” Bunting said.


  1. California is a clear and present danger to the stability and sanity of the United States.

    The sooner they vacate the Union, the better for everyone.

    • There hasn’t been much sanity in the State of California, what makes you think they’re sane here. ha..ha..They’re trying to control the US and every other state, in which every state has their own regulations. They’ve been suffering in their OWN illegal responses.

    • Whoa!! I found a brand of real thick sliced, lean bacon that begs to be sizzling, even as it sits in the frige!!

      “Got attacked by a bacon tree the other day. Turned out to be a ham bush”.

  2. This is just another not-so-sly tactic in the globalist war on meat production and consumption.

    Every US pork producer should simply boycott the Insane People’s Republic of Caliunicornia, the font of virtually every bad and crazy idea and trend in contemporary US politics.

  3. Lets all worry about the size of pig pens? the least of our problems but technically I guess that could fall into the housing issue many face…..

  4. This should not be something that needs to be regulated, since most responsible farmers take proper care of their livestock to produce a quality product. It will affect large industrial livestock producers who probably could use some regulations. Most of our pork industry is now owned by the Chinese communist government, including Smithfield, the largest. They will be pissed off and fight this. Hate to say it, but I support this one. It has been difficult to find good bacon since the Chinese takeover.

  5. The nation has been going in the crapper since the EPA started following California’s mandates on “air quality”. If California is allowed to dictate how our food is produced, we will be in a world of crap.

  6. This law is absurd, but I agree with the Supreme Court on this one. States have a well-established history of being allowed to control what is imported and sold within their territory (certain types of firearms, for example), but Congress (under the proper authority of the Commerce Clause) also has the authority to pass legislation preempting such laws. Hopefully they will.

  7. I’m confused. This is ostensibly a free country. If the people of California want to prohibit certain products from entering their state, why should anyone outside of California have standing to object. If Californians want to outlaw the importing of rice, motor oil, or lipstick, don’t they have that right? Its obvious, in this debate, the hog producers are trying to protect their revenue. What they really need to do is boycprott California entirely. Then, the price of bacon in California will skyrocket. California would eventually come grovelling back to them. It takes fortitude and commitment to stand up against economic bullies.

    • States have a long-established right to control what is imported into their territories. That being said, a large State like California has the ability to create a de facto national standard as sellers don’t want to be shut out of their large market. While those outside California may not have the legal standing to object, policies like this certainly affect them.

      Thankfully the Constitution gives us a much cleaner way to resolve this by way of the Commerce Clause, which likely gives Congress the power to preempt laws like this in furtherance of its power to regulate “commerce among the several States”.

  8. California has been exporting their narcissistic mandates to the rest of the country for over 50 years. Perhaps the best way for dealing with this is to do nothing, cancel them. Narcissists hate it when you simply ignore them. When the good PEOPLE of California come to the conclusion that their state government is what is suppressing them, let them change it, or move out of the oppressive state. Until then, there will be a lot of folks going over the borders to OR, NV, or AZ to shop for the food they want because their “big brother” has banned it for them. There has to be consequences for what their ridiculous government officials are doing. For the pork providers in the other states, focus on the other 49 states. – Cheers

  9. Looks like hogs will be entitled to better treatment than illegal aliens, at least in California.
    Something’s not kosher here.

  10. I can’t believe more people don’t side with the hogs. Since the Chinese takeover of our pork industry they have suffered. We are next. This is the only thing that California has done right.

  11. “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.” “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

  12. I can imagine most of these commenters would argue that the garbage truck driver chasing the moose in Anchorage is a hero along the likes of Rittenhouse. Trying to justify a practice where an animal can’t even turn around so they can get cheap bacon epitomizes the character of these people.

    • Sebastian, maybe you should try learning some of the relevant details of that case before passing summary judgement of that garbage truck driver. Maybe the moose simply refused to move out of the road, and the driver had to be on his way. I don’t know, and neither do you.

      Having said that, it is an undeniable fact that most of the moose in Anchorage proper should be culled — dangerous and huge wild animals do NOT belong in a city, period, and only a self-loathing guilty white leftist would put their needs before those of people.

      Sebastian, do you know why it is so simple, and so boring, to rebutt the nonsense spewed by radical leftists like you? Because being a radical leftist, you do not use logic, or reason, or even think — you simply emote.

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