Breaking: Judges unanimously reject pork industry challenge to landmark farm animal law

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson

By on July 28, 2021 with 20 Comments

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.

USDA Proposition 12 bans the sale in California of meat produced using extreme animal confinement, like gestation crates, where pregnant pigs are kept for months, hardly able to move.

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.

Farm Animals, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative)

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  1. Michele OBrien says:

    Great News

  2. Alan Alejandro Maldonado Ortiz says:

    No se puede permitir mas violencia ni mas crueldad y abuso ya no mas tenemos que aprender a respetar la vida ajena son seres vivos que sienten ya no mas crueldad por favor

  3. Gretchen Gruber says:

    Such wonderful news! These standards are critical for farm animals nationwide! Thank you HSUS and HSLS for your endless perseverance and dedication toward a better future for all animals great and small! 🐾

  4. Sophie Herndon says:

    Great news. However, I cannot comprehend the need to have fight for animal welfare as it should already be a norm. I do not understand the human species to feel compelled to abuse and mistreat an animal, or, to ignore its welfare. Human comes from humane and obviously humans are not kind. No compassion, no empathy baffles me. Hope one day it will be illegal to eat meat but most likely not in my lifetime.

    • M3 Madden says:


    • V says:

      Totally agree. I believe it comes from the human tendency to see ourselves as separate from animals or rather to see animals as for “use” rather than as conscious beings. We are rightfully appalled by slavery, genocide, torture and abuse of humans, yet do not see what we so to animals as the same thing.

      We recently went vegan. I can’t unsee the things that led to that choice. This result is an excellent, yet insufficient step.

  5. Cheryl Foley says:

    Great victory for farm animals!🐓🐖🐗

  6. Jesse Schwartz says:

    Thank you to the Humane Society of the United States and all the other organizations that are standing up for these innocent animals that have no voice of their own. I donate to these organizations and it’s nice to see that they’re doing great work.

  7. JoAnn Shults says:

    This is great news! This should be the law for the United States.
    We need the small farmer back and get rid of factory farms.
    Factory farms are horrendous places that are torture chambers to animals, the animals would not even stay alive not unless they were constantly loaded with antibiotics which in turn goes into our food system and the groundwater.
    Thank you HSUS!

  8. Maria mercado says:

    Keep with the fight!! We are here to help you!!!!!

  9. Rose says:

    It’s barbaric cruel the confinement and treatment of alll animals farmed for food. We need stronger laws to protect them, since humans have a taste to eat animal corpses that won’t decrease even with science backing up plant base diet to a longer and healthier living.

  10. Helen Spencer says:

    This is heartening to see. Unfortunately, for many people, the taste of bacon is more important than the horrible way these creatures are forced to spend their allotted time on this planet.

  11. Gloria Fleming says:

    Best news ever!!!! Keep up the fight,we’ve got your back!!!!

  12. Lisa Pearce says:

    Yes. Keep up the good work!!! I applaud HSUS and all who support the humane treatment of all animals, including those farmed for consumption.
    I’m so happy that we all continue to fight the good fight to be worthy stewards of this beautiful earth family on so many fronts.

  13. M Leybra says:

    When does this law take effect, hopefully not years from now like I never get to see my comment because it’s always ‘awaiting moderation.’

  14. Heron Gardner says:

    Great News!! Keep on pushing. Together we can create a more “humane” world.


  15. marilyn boehm says:

    It’s such a relief to know that the HSUS is there to continue fighting to keep animal abuse laws from being overturned. What kind of hearts do the members of the Pork Producers Council have when they put profit over cruelty? How can they look themselves in the eyes at night knowing they think of pigs as “pork” and “bacon” and “ham?” These are intelligent sentient beings. If they “must” be killed for food, have the decency to do it in a humane fashion.

    • Lance Anderson says:

      I feel the same..
      If it must be for the sake of decency allow these animals time on this earth to be as joyful as possible..

      It is incredibly sad that humans have devolved in such a way to inflict such misery on these innocent,intelligent and LOVING creatures.

      I hope there is some kind of light at the end of this tunnel and change arrives sooner than later regarding treatment of these sentient beings.

      Pray for mercy for all of them.

  16. Janet Zinner says:

    Hurrah!!!!! Thanks judges!
    It’s about time these animals live safe lives!

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