Rural Matters

Proposition 12

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Proposition 12 (Prop 12), also known as the Farm Animal Confinement Initiative, was passed by California voters in 2018. Prop 12 prohibits the sale of eggs, veal, and pork that has been confined in a cruel manner (as defined by the policy).

A law is only good as its enforcement 

The animal welfare movement has poured millions of dollars into banning cages and crates for farmed animals — a strategy that has proven surprisingly successful. Hundreds of food corporations have pledged to source exclusively cage-free eggs and/or pork, and over a dozen states have passed what are called “production” bans, which prohibit in-state meat or egg producers from using cages and crates for one or more farmed animal species. Most of these states aren’t themselves agricultural heavyweights — they import most of their animal products from other states. So, as a way of affecting production elsewhere, eight states have passed “sales” bans, like California’s Prop 12, which go much further by banning the sale of eggs, pork, and/or veal from caged animals raised anywhere in the world.

Iowa’s pork producers raise 46 million pigs a year, making our home the number one pork-producing state in the nation. Compliance with Prop 12 would require the majority of our farmers to undergo a complete renovation of nearly all animal confinement facilities, estimated to cost $1,700 per sow.

Producers and consumers alike are already suffering under the crushing weight of inflation, and the last thing they need is unnecessary expenses. Family and independent farms that cannot afford retrofitting costs would be forced to sell or consolidate their operations, resulting a devastating blow to Iowans.

While the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a challenge to the California law in May, their decision opened the door for Congressional action. In the court’s majority opinion, Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote that Congress has the power to regulate commerce, but has yet to enact legislation to displace Prop 12.

Our practices are based on years of tried-and-true methods, using scientific approaches. We ensure top-notch care for our animals so we can provide high-quality food to consumers. Iowa is the top pork-producing state in the nation. We feed the world with delicious and nutritious protein products.

Anti-agriculture activists succeeded in passing Proposition 12 in California. This law seeks to usurp longstanding animal care practices by forcing arbitrary guidelines on farmers in every state. Supporters of Prop 12 have failed to show it will improve animal welfare. 

Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-IA-02) introduced the bicameral Ending Agricultural Trade Suppression (EATS) Act with Rep. Zach Nunn (R-IA-03). Senator Roger Marshall (R-KS) introduced the Senate version of the bill with support from Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA). The legislation will prohibit state and local governments from interfering with the production or manufacture of agricultural products in other states.

In the decision to uphold Proposition 12, Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch noted, "Congress has yet to adopt any statute that might displace Proposition 12 or laws regulating pork producing in other states." The EATS Act addresses this deficiency and will ensure Iowa farmers can continue producing high quality food while protecting free market interstate commerce.

Not a livestock producer? This is still an important issue for crop producers. 

Iowa pork industry uses 22% of Iowa’s total corn production yearly, and 23% of the soybean yearly crop goes to pork production. (Iowa Pork Association)

Poultry numbers are also impactful with Iowa being the #1 egg producer in the nation. Iowa chickens consume 55 million bushels of corn and over 500,000 tons of soybean meal annually. (North Central Poultry Association)

If Proposition 12 is left unchecked where will this lead next? Will crop farming be the next target of California? What can Iowans do?

Voice support to your representatives and senators who are supporting and working to pass the EATS Act.

Contact Sue at with Proposition 12 questions or other policy concerns.

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