In the coming weeks, Iowa farmers should find out whether or not they'll have to comply with a proposition approved by California voters to prohibit sales of pork, eggs and veal that do not meet certain production standards.
Details: Proposition 12 takes effect next year and generally prohibits an animal from being confined in a manner that prevents lying down, standing up or fully extending its limbs. The proposition:
- Requires at least 24 square feet of space per sow. (The typical is currently between 16-18, according to the National Pork Producers Council.)
- Prohibits breeding stalls, often a metal enclosure that a sow can be kept in for weeks after delivery.
- Mandates cage-free housing systems for egg-laying hens.
The latest: There are multiple ongoing legal challenges.
- Iowa is one of 20 states that filed a brief last year in support of one lawsuit that challenges the proposition as an unconstitutional California power grab.
Critics — including the National Pork Producers Council — warned in court Wednesday that the standards are arbitrary and will cost Iowa farmers millions of dollars in lost sales and compliance costs, raising prices for consumers.
- Advocates counter that the freedom-of-movement standards are reasonable.
The big picture: With nearly 40 million residents, California is a key market for Iowa farmers.
- Iowa farmers would generally need to conform to California’s standards to continue to do business there if the proposition isn’t struct down in the courts.
What's next: Court rulings are expected in the coming weeks.
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