Meat Industry Files Suit to Block California’s Anti-Animal Cruelty Law

LOS ANGELES (CN) – An agricultural trade group filed a federal lawsuit against the state of California on Friday to stop a voter-approved statute that requires more space to farm animals that are raised for consumption, claiming the rules are unconstitutional.

The North American Meat Institute boasts a large membership of meat packing and processor groups, including Tyson Foods, Butterball and many other businesses who supply most of the nation’s meat at the market and wholesalers.

Last November, California voters approved Proposition 12 – the Prevention of Cruelty to Farm Animals Act – which set new minimum standards for egg-laying hens, breeding pigs and calves raised for veal. The measure passed with 62% voter approval.

But in its federal complaint, North American Meat Institute calls the new requirements a detriment to its industry, claiming prices will have to be raised for both farmers and consumers.

According to the 16-page complaint filed in the Central District of California, farmers will have to remodel their existing housing to give animals more space. Under the new requirements, calves require 43 square feet of floor space, while pigs need 24 square feet and hens will need one square foot.

The requirements go into effect starting 2020 and other requirements will follow, such as requiring hens to live cage free by 2022.

The trade group argues in the complaint that the sales ban of meat found out of compliance violates the Commerce Clause by creating a “trade barrier whose purpose and effect are to shield California producers from out-of-state competition.”

They’re seeking an injunction against that sales ban written into the statute and claim it’s unconstitutional and unenforceable.

The trade group is represented by the law firm Sidley Austin and named California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Secretary of the State Department of Food and Agriculture and acting director of the state’s Department of Public Health.

An email to the California Attorney General’s office for comment was not immediately answered Friday.

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