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Beginning in 2022, sows will require a minimum of 24 square feet of usable space per animal, according to California's Proposition 12.

At Meat Conference, fighting words against California's Proposition 12

Bill dictates how farmers in other states raise their meat, says Meat Institute

During a session on regulatory updates for the meat industry on Monday at the Annual Meat Conference, Mark Dopp of the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) focused much of his attention on California’s controversial Proposition 12. Dopp, the senior vice president, regulatory & scientific affairs and general counsel for the organization, outlined the details of the bill and emphasized how damaging it is for the industry.

Meat Conference-Mark Dopp.jpg

“California is dictating to farmers in other states as to how they are raising their meat,” said Dopp (left).

In November 2019, NAMI lost its bid to halt implementation of California’s Proposition 12, a law that establishes minimum requirements for confinement of laying hens, breeding pigs and veal calves. In a ruling issued on Nov. 22, Judge Christina Snyder denied NAMI’s request for a preliminary injunction against Proposition 12, which was enacted by California voters in 2018.

Under the law, producers of veal calves will be required to house animals with at least 43 square feet of usable floor space per calf by 2020. Beginning in 2022, sows will need a minimum of 24 square feet of usable space per animal and laying hens will be cage-free. 

NAMI is appealing to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

“For instance, nobody can meet the 43-square-foot requirement for veal,” said Dopp. “It would cut the number of animals in the barns from 200 to 88.”

“The implications for Proposition 12 are huge across all businesses that cross state lines,” added Andy Harig, vice president, tax, trade, sustainability and policy development at FMI-The Food Industry Association, who also participated in the regulatory update session at the Meat Conference. “One state can dictate how other companies in other states need to operate their business.”  

California lawmakers have yet to issue regulations implementing Proposition 12 despite the statutory deadline to do so by Sept. 1, 2019.

According to NAMI, if implemented, Proposition 12 would force its members to spend tens of millions of dollars to reconfigure production processes — and in some cases dismantling and building new facilities — to comply with the law; reduce production to meet the law's square footage requirements and forfeit revenue; leave the California market (and forfeit revenue); or risk criminal penalties.

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