The Impact of California’s Proposition 12 on Texas Show Pig Producers

By Colby Ferguson, TPPA executive director

In 2018, California voters passed a California constitutional amendment that imposed arbitrary minimum requirements on farmers to provide more space for egg-laying hens, breeding sows, and calves raised for veal.  This state law impacted not only producers in California but also any producer who sold animals or meat into California.  Before the law could go into effect, many livestock groups including the National Pork Producers Council filed a lawsuit against the law saying that it infringed on interstate commerce.  The case stayed in the courts until it made its way to the US Supreme Court in 2022.  After many months of deliberating, the Supreme Court came back in May 2023 with their ruling upholding the California law.  Therefore, forcing all producers to abide by the new space requirements.  This is a major issue for most modern commercial swine farms, but for the typical show pig operation, they meet the minimum housing standards easily.

So why is this a big deal, then? Well, up until January 1, 2024, a producer could self-certify that they met Prop 12 housing standards.  A show pig breeder that sold pigs to families in California didn’t have to worry about the new law because the families were able to certify for them.  Unfortunately, that can’t be done starting in 2024.  Now a producer that sells pigs into California will have to get their operation third-party certified by an independent certified Prop 12 auditor through an onsite inspection before those pigs can enter California. This certification is only good for 1 year.  So, a producer will have to get reinspected annually to keep their certification.

Is there anything being done to try to stop this regulatory overreach? Yes, many agricultural groups including NPPC are lobbying Congress to include language in the next Federal Farm Bill to address this issue.  Since the Supreme Court clearly outlined that Congress needed to clarify their intent when it comes to the state’s ability to dictate how commerce is allowed into their state, it is Congress’s responsibility to address this.  Today, it is Prop 12 and sow housing, but tomorrow it could be another state that has issues with its fellow neighboring states and creates its own restriction on commerce being allowed in.  This precedent set by the Supreme Court could open Pandora’s Box when it comes to state-by-state regulations and restrictions.

For show pig producers looking for more answers and links to certified Prop 12 auditors, has provided a blog piece on it. To view the article, click here.

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