NAMI: Prop 12 has no consumer benefit, increases sow mortality

Legislative Watch: USDA to invest in strengthening the nation's food system; DOJ should investigate cattle market.

P. Scott Shearer, Vice President

June 11, 2021

4 Min Read

The North American Meat Institute (NAMI) is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review California's Proposition 12. NAMI states that according to California's proposed rule, there would be no benefit to consumers, and it would increase breeding sow mortality. 

NAMI President and CEO Julie Anna Potts said, "The recently proposed rule by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) admits there are no benefits to Californians as a result of Prop 12. CDFA admits deaths of breeding sows will increase. Both are unintentional consequences of a costly and unconstitutional law. Our petition to challenge the law has the support of more than 20 states and we think it should be reviewed by the Supreme Court.”

NAMI in a briefing filed with the court pointed out key findings in CDFA's notice published along with the rule:

  • Estimated costs for businesses to comply regarding pork. “Estimated ongoing cost is greater than the initial cost of conversion at $100,000 per year for a typical breeding pig farm due to smaller inventory of breeding pigs, lower piglet output per animal and increased breeding pig mortality.”

  • CDFA acknowledges that animal confinement space allowances prescribed in the Act (cage-free for egg-laying hens, 43 square feet for veal calves and 24 square feet for breeding pigs) “are not based in specific peer-reviewed published scientific literature or accepted as standards within the scientific community to reduce human food-borne illness, promote worker safety, the environment, or other human or safety concerns.”

  • “This proposal does not directly impact human health and welfare of California residents, worker safety, or the State’s environment…”

  • CDFA also identified higher costs for schools, universities, prisons, and county jails. Discussing the “benefits to human health, worker safety, or the state’s environment” CDFA said, “The Department has made an initial determination that the proposed regulatory action will have significant, statewide adverse economic impact directly affecting California businesses including the ability of California businesses to compete with businesses in other states.”

  • Finally, the agency identified an impact Prop 12 is likely to have – forcing low income consumers to pay more for food. “Covered pork, and especially covered egg products will become more expensive to consumers starting in January 2022 because of the animal confinement standards mandated in statutes. … Therefore, the Act will disproportionately reduce food purchasing power of low-income consumers. … Food consumers most affected will be those low-income consumers that are not enrolled in assistance programs.”

In urging the Supreme Court to grant a review, NAMI said, "the Ninth Circuit's decision conflicts with the decisions of other federal courts of appeal on the          question of whether the Constitution limits a state's ability to extend its police power beyond the territorial borders through a trade barrier dictating production standards in other States and countries."

USDA to invest in strengthening the nation's food system

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it will be investing over $4 billion to strengthen critical supply chains through the administration's Build Back America initiative. The COVID-19 crisis highlighted problems within the U.S. supply chain that resulted in supply chain disruptions.

The initiative will focus on four areas: food production, food processing, food distribution and aggregation, and markets and consumers. Under the food processing effort, USDA will make investments to support new and expanded regional processing capabilities. 

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said: "The COVID-19 pandemic led to massive disruption for growers and food workers. It exposed a food system that was rigid, consolidated, and fragile. Meanwhile, those growing, processing and preparing our food are earning less each year in a system that rewards size over all else. The Build Back Better initiative will make meaningful investments to build a food system that is more resilient against shocks, delivers greater value to growers and workers, and offers consumers an affordable selection of healthy food produced and sourced locally and regionally by farmers and processors from diverse backgrounds."

USDA's announcement supports the administration's efforts to strengthen the resilience of critical supply chains that President Biden directed by Executive Order 14107 America's Supply Chains.

DOJ should investigate cattle market

Two congressional letters have been sent to Attorney General Merrick Garland concerning antitrust issues with the beef packing industry.

Senators Mike Rounds, R-S.D., and Tina Smith, D-Minn., along with 26 other Senators and Representatives sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland calling on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate the beef packing industry for antitrust violations.

The group said, "From our perspective, the anticompetitive practices occurring in the industry today are unambiguous and either our antitrust laws are not being enforced or they are not capable of addressing the apparent oligopoly that so plainly exits."

A House letter signed by over 50 Representatives is asking that DOJ complete its investigation into anticompetitive conduct of the beef industry and provide Congress with updates on the investigation.  The DOJ Antitrust Division in May of 2020 issued civil investigative demands (CIV) to the four largest U.S. beef packers regarding concerns of anticompetitive conduct.

Source: P. Scott Shearer, who is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

About the Author(s)

P. Scott Shearer

Vice President, Bockorny Group, Inc.

Scott Shearer is vice president of the Bockorny Group Inc., a leading bipartisan government affairs consulting firm in Washington, D.C. With more than 30 years experience in government and corporate relations in state and national arenas, he is recognized as a leader in agricultural trade issues, having served as co-chairman of the Agricultural Coalition for U.S.-China Trade and co-chairman of the Agricultural Coalition for Trade Promotion Authority. Scott was instrumental in the passage of China Permanent Normal Trade Relations and TPA. He is past chairman of the USDA-USTR Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for Trade in Animals and Animal Products and was a member of the USAID Food Security Advisory Committee. Prior to joining the Bockorny Group, Scott served as director of national relations for Farmland Industries Inc., as well as USDA’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Congressional Affairs (1993-96), serving as liaison for the Secretary of Agriculture and the USDA to Congress.

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