Judge delays enforcement of California animal housing law

The California Department of Food and Agriculture cannot enforce the state’s animal housing law for pork products to certain parties until six months after issuing the final rule, a lawmaker has ruled. judge of a state court.

In a ruling released Tuesday, Sacramento County Superior Court Judge James Arguelles said the text of a 2018 ballot initiative shows voters wanted the CDFA and the California Department of Public Health are drafting regulations before they start enforcing the law, which came into force on January 1. despite the absence of written rules. The state had argued that it could start enforcing the law.

The judge’s decision specifically bars enforcement against all members of the plaintiff classes, as well as any of their owners and operators. The lawsuits were the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, California Grocers Association, California Retailers Association, California Restaurant Association and Kruse & Son.

The CDFA and the state attorney general’s office are “evaluating the decision to determine specific next steps,” according to a statement from the CDFA.

“It should be noted that the judge’s ruling is a narrow ruling that applies only to retailers, including grocers, and not to pork producers supplying pork products to California,” the press release from the CDFA. “Pork producers and suppliers remain subject to law enforcement if they violate the square footage requirement that came into effect on January 1.”

The CDFA said it is “moving as quickly as possible” to complete the regulations “while ensuring that the extensive comments submitted by stakeholders are fully considered during a recent public comment period. In the meantime, the CDFA continues its outreach and education efforts to support compliance by pork producers. More information on next steps can be found here.

And the Humane Society of the United States said the order does not change the law. “It simply and very temporarily interrupts the application of one of the provisions of the law (the provision relating to area). To be clear, this decision does not in any way delay or affect the ban on pregnant caged pork sold in California.”

The North American Meat Institute welcomed the decision, noting that California is more than two years past the September 2019 statutory deadline for issuing regulations.

“Judge Arguelles’ decision recognizes the complexity of the pork supply chain and the cumbersome and costly provisions of Prop 12,” said NAMI President and CEO Julie Anna Potts. “To enforce the law without final regulation, the industry doesn’t know how to comply or what significant changes need to be made to supply pork to this critical market.”

The law establishes acreage requirements for breeding sows across the United States that produce pork sold in California. The meat industry has criticized the law and launched multiple legal challenges, including a motion to have the case reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Relying on plaintiffs’ statements, the judge said that “there is currently no system in place that traces pork sold in California to a particular pig raised out of state. Breeding pigs originating from out of state are often raised on more than one farm, and they and their offspring change hands several times before arriving as whole pork ready for sale in California.

The plaintiffs argued that “suppliers cannot provide reliable assurances that their pork products come from confined pigs with at least 24 square feet per pig,” Arguelles said.

The judge also barred the filing of civil lawsuits against plaintiffs and their members and owners to enforce Prop 12 until six months after the rules were published.

“As a private, family-owned California processor, I was forced to seek court relief for delaying California’s Proposition 12 because it became clear that our pork supply would be interrupted in 2022,” said Kruse & Son CEO Steve Kruse. “I am grateful that the court has suspended implementation of Prop 12 until the state issues final regulations and begins to implement the national certification system that businesses like mine will have to rely on. press once Prop 12 goes into effect.

“Without the proper time for the supply chain to comply, the state will leave hard-working California consumers potentially vulnerable to severe shortages this year,” Kruse said.

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This story has been updated to add commentary from the Humane Society of the US

Boyd S. Abbott