Fighting California’s need to rule U.S. agriculture

At bedrock, the fight against California’s laws keeping eggs, pork and veal out of the state is constitutional. Here’s why that matters to you.


Steve Dittmer, Opinion, BEEF Magazine

Jan 07, 2020


Most people think that the Commerce Clause of the Constitution prohibits states from making laws that would discriminate or burden other states. But the issue is more complicated than that. It is not an open and shut case. Meaning, the courts have had to make the determination hundreds of times in our history.


Now consider California’s laws restricting eggs, pork and veal being sold in the state only from animals that lived in bigger spaces than mainstream modern animal production provides. So far, cases tried in California courts have, not too surprisingly, struck out. And, so far, the Supreme Court has refused to review any of the cases.


But the Commerce Clause, as it has often been interpreted would seem to offer promising avenues for getting relief for animal agriculture in the other 49 states.


Which is why the North American Meat Institute (NAMI), the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) are involved in lawsuits attempting to stop California’s bid to set animal production standards for the whole country, based on regulations stipulated by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Of course, while HSUS talks about preventing its definition of animal “cruelty,” they never talk about their long-term aim, which is to force livestock producers out of business.


Even California’s government, in evaluating the effects of the new laws, admitted that producers would incur substantial costs if they wanted to comply with the regulations and sell product in California. Not only would livestock producers have to commit hundreds of millions of dollars in remodeled or new facilities to comply, but consumers will pay more for food, as many producers in-state will go out of business and out-of-state producers will forego the California market entirely.


Could beef producers get sucked into this mess? It’s not out of the question.


Why is this not an open and shut case? ...


Bring on the court cases ...