Should the Supreme Court Decide How Farmers Raise Their Pigs? By Pork Producer Wanda Patsche

What is Proposition 12?

Proposition 12 is a ballot initiative the citizens of California voted for. The proposition talks about new space requirements for livestock, including pigs. Currently, only 5% of farms would meet the new requirements. The pork industry along with American Farm Bureau has asked the Supreme Court to review the legality of this proposition. As of right now, Californians can only purchase/eat pork from farms that meet the new requirements.

Will the Supreme Court Look at California’s Prop 12?

Not sure. We are waiting for an answer to this question

So, what is the big deal? Just change the barns to meet the requirements, right?

It would cost farmers millions of dollars to make the barn changes. And where does that money come from? Consumers as a whole, are not willing to pay extra for the new housing standards. So who pays?

Does it affect the quality of pork?

No, absolutely not. Pigs are well cared and it would not change the quality of the meat.

So, why don’t we just ignore California and let them live with shortages of pork?

Well, California consumes about 13% of pork in the U.S. That’s a lot of pork.

Farm Certification and Inspections

One last issue not many people are talking about is that farms would need to be certified by California standards in order to sell pork in the state. Also, inspectors will be given authority to enter certified facilities at will to verify Prop 12’s requirements.

So what is wrong with that? It is well known that animal activists were behind the Prop 12 ballot initiative. So why wouldn’t these activists want to be “inspectors?” And the inspectors can show up unannounced. What about biosecurity? So where does the Supreme Court come into play? After numerous unsuccessful efforts to disallow Proposition 12, the pork industry, along with American Farm Bureau, is asking the Supreme Court to review this proposed law. The Supreme Court’s decision in making a determination as to whether they will review and rule on the case will be made in the very near future. It really boils down to “can a state such as California” tell another state how livestock is housed based? Many feel it violates the Interstate Commerce Clause.

Response to Editorial:

There was an editorial in the LA Times saying farmers should stop fighting Proposition 12. Unfortunately, these editorials come from people who do not have a farm connection and are clueless about what it takes to raise pigs. It’s easy to be an armchair farmer with zero farming knowledge or experience.

The editorial said the pork industry should stop spending money on legal fees and just make the changes. Again, we are talking millions of dollars in new and/or revamped hog barns. It’s a BIG deal.

Gestation Stalls

The biggest concern is about the use of gestation stalls. We have used gestation stalls in the past and we currently use them. Why? Because sows have a tendency to be aggressive towards other sows. Pigs have a social hierarchy where they have to determine who is king sow and the way they do that is by fighting each other. Sows have died on our farm because another sow attacked it. Gestation stalls allow a safe living space for sows. Not only safe, but we can make sure they are receiving the correct amount of feed, water, and medical care if needed.

So as of right now, Californians would not be able to buy pork from my farm. Yes, most Californians voted for the Proposition, but as with most ballot initiatives, the wording of the question is key. In fact, if I didn’t understand the pork industry, I probably would have voted for it too because not voting for it would make you look like a heathen.

Humane Farms

Lastly, California wants more humane farms. The state doesn’t have a pork industry so how would they know? Animal activists have a strong voice in California and they are the spokespeople. Understand animal activists have a different agenda than farmers who work with their animals every single day. We care for our animals and they are treated humanely.