By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson
Today, a three-judge panel in the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit unanimously denied an attempt by the National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation to strike down California’s Proposition 12, considered the strongest farm animal protection law in the world.
Championed by the Humane Society of the United States, Proposition 12 is the ground-breaking animal welfare ballot measure passed by California voters in a landslide in 2018. It bans the extreme confinement of egg-laying hens, mother pigs and baby calves used in the veal industry, and prohibits the sale in California of eggs, pork and veal if they are the products of animals confined inside cruel cages.
Today’s news comes just one month after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a separate meat industry legal challenge to Proposition 12. The 9th Circuit’s ruling affirms what the HSUS and the Humane Society Legislative Fund have long advocated, and what courts have repeatedly held: that states have the right to pass laws that reject cruel products and protect their citizens’ health and safety.
The HSUS intervened to defend Proposition 12, along with Animal Equality, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Animal Outlook, Compassion in World Farming USA, Farm Sanctuary and the Humane League.
The vast majority of egg-laying hens, veal calves and mother pigs in the U.S. are locked in the type of extreme confinement systems Proposition 12 outlaws. Animals inside factory farms suffer horrifying abuses on a daily basis. For nearly their entire lives, egg-laying hens, mother pigs and baby calves are crammed in tiny, dirty cages where they can hardly move, leaving them unable to engage in many of their most basic natural behaviors. The cruel, filthy conditions have also been linked to zoonotic disease by the United Nations.
The HSUS and HSLF are battling every day to end this animal cruelty. Our legislative campaigns have resulted in the passage of farm animal protection laws in over a dozen states, and our corporate campaigns have convinced hundreds of food corporations to adopt cage-free policies. The transition to a more humane, safe and sustainable agricultural model is underway, and we urge the Biden Administration to support this effort.
Today’s legal decision makes it even more clear that the cruel caging of farm animals has no place in a humane society. We’ll keep making that point in boardrooms, legislatures, courtrooms and public discourse until the crates and cages are just a bad memory.
Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.