Landmark Farmed Animal Protection Law Challenged in Supreme Court

After losing in lower courts, the pork industry is now challenging the constitutionality of Proposition 12—a landmark farmed animal protection law—in the Supreme Court of the United States.

In 2018, California voters passed Proposition 12, which bans the intensive confinement of laying hens, mother pigs, and calves raised for veal. It also bans the sale in California of eggs, pork, and veal from facilities that don’t meet Prop 12 standards. When it was passed, this initiative was the strongest farmed animal protection law in the world.

Prop 12 is now under attack. On March 28, 2022, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a lawsuit brought by the pork industry that challenges the constitutionality of Prop 12. If the industry is successful and Prop 12 is overturned, similar laws that have been enacted in other states since Prop 12 could also be at risk.

Intensive confinement is one of the cruelest practices in the meat and egg industries. For mother pigs, this means being kept in cages, known as gestation crates, during pregnancy that are barely larger than their bodies. They suffer this abuse pregnancy after pregnancy until they are slaughtered.

After being taken from their mothers, calves raised for veal often spend their short lives in small stalls or hutches. They are slaughtered at just 16 to 18 weeks of age—while they are still just babies. Some are so crippled from confinement that they need to be carried to the transport truck taking them to slaughter.

Laying hens often endure miserable lives stuffed together inside tiny wire cages. Mercy For Animals investigations have documented facilities with hundreds of thousands of animals packed so tightly into filthy wire cages they could hardly move.

This kind of treatment is unacceptable, and the well-funded factory farming industry is attacking the progress you helped achieve.

Under the Trump administration, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) filed amicus briefs in support of the pork industry, including in the lawsuit now before the Supreme Court. The Biden administration has failed to withdraw this supportive brief.

Join us in urging the USDA to reverse its current stance, withdraw its amicus brief, and go on record publicly supporting Proposition 12.