Federal Judge Sets Court Date for Challenge to Massachusetts Q3 Pork Rules

A federal judge has scheduled a hearing for next month to address the legal efforts aimed at blocking the implementation of Massachusetts’ Question 3 rule, which imposes restrictions on the sale of pork products derived from hogs and pigs raised in pens deemed too small.

U.S. District Court Judge William Young has slated an in-person hearing for September 6th to consider a motion filed by Triumph Foods and other plaintiffs who are contesting the measure that was passed by Massachusetts voters back in 2016.

The lawsuit brought forth by Triumph Foods argues that the law unfairly discriminates against hog farmers and pork processors from outside of Massachusetts. According to the law, products cannot be sold in the state if the animals were not raised in pens of a specific, mandated size. The plaintiffs assert that such penalties could disrupt the pork supply chain and potentially lead to contractual violations between farmers, companies, and other local businesses.

The upcoming hearing is set to occur roughly two weeks after the scheduled enforcement of Question 3, in accordance with an agreement linked to a separate lawsuit initiated by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources and other parties in July.

In addition to their primary claims, Triumph Foods and the other plaintiffs emphasize that their challenge to Question 3 does not duplicate arguments presented before the U.S. Supreme Court. This is in reference to the court’s recent affirmation of a similar measure, Proposition 12, in California earlier this year.

The upcoming legal proceedings will likely have significant implications for the pork industry in Massachusetts and beyond, as the debate over the balance between animal welfare regulations and economic interests continues to unfold.