Amicus Brief Says Proposition to Regulate Hog Housing Protects Californians

Animal rights organizations filed an amicus curiae brief in a lawsuit against California’s Proposition 12 in favor of the defendants, including the Humane Society of the United States, Xavier Becerra, and other individuals associated with California agencies.  The brief was filed on Monday by Health Care Without Harm, The Consumer Federation of America, the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, and the Food & Water Watch, it was approved by the court on Tuesday. 

The lawsuit was appealed to the Ninth Circuit in June of this year by the plaintiffs, the National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation. The appeal argued against California’s Proposition 12, which requires female breeding pigs to be given space to turn around in order for meat from the pigs’ offspring to be sold in the state. It also included other regulations regarding the production of veal, pork, and eggs. 

The plaintiffs purported that these regulations complicate the national market and would impose burdens on farmers in the Midwest and North Carolina where pigs are primarily bred. In October, an amicus curiae brief in favor of the plaintiffs was filed by various organizations, 20 states, and the United States. 

In Monday’s brief, the parties argued that Proposition 12 addresses legitimate concerns about animal cruelty and that the court should not limit California’s powers. They also said that the arguments from the plaintiffs’ complained about the effects on their businesses but did not say they had concerns about the overall pork market. 

The brief said, “there should be no question that California can, for example, ban the sale of pork from pigs (wherever raised) that were fed poison, raised in housing containing asbestos, or loaded full of antibiotics prior to slaughter. All of these are clearly issues affecting the health and safety of California citizens and are well within a state’s police power, regardless of whether such regulations negatively affect the bottom line of pork producers. Proposition 12 is no different. While it is not as facially obvious as the above examples, there is substantial evidence demonstrating that Proposition 12 addresses significant health and safety risks to California citizens, at least by minimizing risk of the spread of the swine flu … and decreasing incentives for excessive antibiotic use.” 

Further, they argued that the proposition would not place burdens on the interstate market, and that the appellants and plaintiffs choose to set up the supply chain with most products being imported into California and with the pigs frequently housed in small spaces, which has led to the passing of Proposition 12 requiring additional costs from the plaintiffs and appellants to sell pork in the state. 

The organizations, represented by Shearman & Sterling LLP, asked the court to dismiss the complaint, affirming the district court’s ruling. The plaintiffs are represented by Mayer Brown and the defendants by the Office of the California Attorney General.