The Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments Tuesday, Oct. 11 in the case of National Pork Producers Council v. Ross.
NPPC and the American Farm Bureau Federation filed the petition to SCOTUS last year in response to California’s Proposition 12, a regulation that sets housing requirements for pork raised for food in California. The proposition requires breeding hogs each be given 24 square feet of living space, departing from industry-standard pork production practices.
California consumes roughly 13% of the pork produced in the U.S. but has very little in-state pork production, forcing them to import a majority of their pork products. According to the proposition, the housing regulations apply not only to pork raised in California, but also to any pork sold in the state, meaning producers both in California and across the country must comply with these regulations.
In the original petition to SCOTUS, AFBF and NPPC argued the new infrastructure required under Proposition 12 would place an enormous financial burden on pork producers that would eventually be felt by consumers paying higher prices at the grocery store.
Aside from the financial challenges, AFBF and NPPC also compelled SCOTUS to consider how Proposition 12 might impede interstate commerce under the Constitution’s dormant commerce clause, asserting how California’s state regulations would affect businesses outside the state.
Last Tuesday’s oral arguments included testimony from representatives of both sides. Supreme Court Justices engaged in compelling dialogue with representatives for both the petitioners (AFBF and NPPC) and the respondents, including discussion on whether a state can pass laws based on morality concerns.
Justices gave no clear direction on a possible ruling by the end of Tuesday’s arguments. A decision is expected by June 2023.