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photo credit: Greta Mart

Animal welfare and the supply of bacon are about to collide in California as we start the new year. The nation’s toughest animal confinement law requires livestock to have enough space to lie down and turn around.

It also bans the sale of products that don’t meet the guidelines, no matter where the animals were raised.

Voter-approved Prop 12 covers a variety of farm animals, but pork is the big issue here because California is not a large producer, so national suppliers worry it’ll hurt business and are suing on interstate commerce grounds.

The law has survived legal challenges, including at the top.

The Supreme Court already declined to hear one suit, and is waiting to announce whether it’ll hear another, but historically federal courts have sided with California when it comes to animal housing standards.

Now, a new suit comes at it from another angle.

A consortium of restaurants, grocery stores, and farmers says the state doesn’t yet have regulations in place, despite wording in the initiative requiring it two years ago.

Julian Canete is president of the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, one of the groups behind that suit.

“We’re not opposed to Prop 12, right," Canete said. "So, we just want to make sure that there’s ample time for everybody to be able to contribute to the regulations that you’re asking them to commit to."

And another suit from supporters of the law also addresses the implementation. Wayne Pacelle is president of Animal Wellness Action.

“We want to make sure that the regulations that implement Prop 12 are sturdy enough to withstand attacks by agribusiness interests,” Pacelle said. 

The California Department of Food and Agriculture says it’s still finalizing the regulations and that the state attorney general’s office is handling the lawsuits.


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