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Another bill takes aim at California Prop 12

Hawley says farmers and consumers need law to prevent rising costs.

Joshua Baethge

December 4, 2023

2 Min Read
Feeder pigs in hog building
Getty Images/hiphoto40

Sen. Josh Hawley, R- Mo., is the latest lawmaker to take a stab at combatting California Proposition 12. That law requires pork, eggs and veal sold in the Golden State to come from animals raised in confinement spaces meeting minimum requirements. It went into effect this summer after being upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

California officials allowed a grace period for products already in the supply chain. The grace period expires early next year. If Hawley has anything to say about it, Congressional action will prevent that from happening.

On Nov. 30, he introduced the Protecting Interstate Commerce for Livestock Producers Act. Without it, he believes businesses will be hurt and prices will rise.

“Missouri’s livestock producers keep food on the table across America and they shouldn’t be burdened by costly laws – made by other states – that disrupt interstate commerce, drive-up costs, and impose crippling regulations,” Hawley says. “This law is a commonsense solution to protect family farms from going bankrupt and consumers from shouldering higher costs at the grocery store.”

If passed, the bill would prevent state and local entities from regulating the production, raising or importation of livestock and livestock goods from other states. States would still be allowed to regulate imports in the event of an animal disease.

Since the Supreme Court’s controversial decision, multiple lawmakers have attempted to counter Prop. 12. Congress is currently considering legislation known as the EATS Act that would also prohibit states from imposing additional requirements on agriculture products from other states. While multiple national ag groups have endorsed the bill, its fate seems murky at best.

There has also been talk of including language offsetting Proposition 12 in the farm bill. However, that would still require the support of a significant number of lawmakers who oppose the EATS Act in principle.

Not everyone hates Prop 12

While many in the agriculture and food industries argue Proposition 12 is state overreach, not everyone wants to see the law go. More than 200 Congressional lawmakers are now on record opposing the EATS Act. They contend the federal government should not take away a state’s right to regulate its own agriculture industry.

A July study from Harvard University argued that passing the EATS Act could put hundreds of other state laws, including those governing public health and safety, in jeopardy. Some producers also see Prop. 12 as an opportunity to capitalize on a new market that could potentially yield higher margins.

While the EATS Act would apply to any agriculture product, Hawley’s bill would only affect livestock. Whether that difference will be enough to gain more supporters remains to be seen.

About the Author(s)

Joshua Baethge

Policy editor, Farm Progress

Joshua Baethge covers a wide range of government issues affecting agriculture. Before joining Farm Progress, he spent 10 years as a news and feature reporter in Texas. During that time, he covered multiple state and local government entities, while also writing about real estate, nightlife, culture and whatever else was the news of the day.

Baethge earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of North Texas. In his free time, he enjoys going to concerts, discovering new restaurants, finding excuses to be outside and traveling as much as possible. He is based in the Dallas area where he lives with his wife and two kids.

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