Attorney General Curtis Hill is defending Hoosier farmers by leading a multistate brief challenging a California law requiring farmers around the country to comply with strict animal-confinement rules or else lose access to the California market.
In a brief filed with a U.S. district court, Indiana and 14 other states support a lawsuit by the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) challenging California’s Proposition 12, enacted by that state’s voters in 2018.
The California law contains two operative provisions. The first provision exercises California’s authority over farming in the state by regulating the manner in which California’s own farmers may confine three types of livestock: 1) calves raised for veal, 2) breeding pigs and 3) egg-laying hens. A second provision, however, unconstitutionally purports to extend California’s animal-confinement regulations to every farmer in the United States. It prohibits the sale in California of any veal, pork or eggs produced from animals not raised in accordance with the state’s animal-confinement regulations, regardless of where in the United States those animals were raised.
In the brief, Attorney General Hill explains that the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause prohibits California’s attempt to usurp other states’ authority to adopt their own animal-husbandry policies.
“States have a sovereign interest in preserving their authority to set policy for their own farmers,” Attorney General Hill said.
In their lawsuit, NPPC and AFBF are asking the federal district court to prevent California’s sales ban from being enforced. Writing in support, Attorney General Hill noted that Indiana is the fifth largest pork producer in the United States. Further, Purdue University, an arm of the State of Indiana, raises swine and sells them into the national supply chain, likely reaching California customers. The State of Indiana, therefore, is likely to be directly affected by California’s law.
This is not the first time Attorney General Hill has taken action opposing California’s Proposition 12. He led another multistate brief against it, for example, in November 2019.