California’s Proposition 12, which sets animal-welfare standards for meat sold within the state, has been upheld by the Supreme Court. It’s a ruling that should have been expected, and appellants’ claim that the California law violates the Commerce Clause notwithstanding, the ruling is proper. What a State requires of products sold entirely within it is not interstate commerce—which is the province, and the only aspect that is the province, of the clause.
All Prop 12’s law does is place requirements on the meat sold within the State; it imposes no requirements on how other States comport themselves, including how they raise their food animals. Nothing in the law forces other States to incur the costs of complying with it.
It is true enough that
Californians account for about 13% of the country’s pork consumption but raise hardly any pigs. That means that the costs of complying with Proposition 12 fall mostly in states like Iowa, which raises a third of the country’s pigs.
The Prop 12 law often is viewed as an attempt by California to dictate regulate what other States do regarding their own production requirements. The decision to accede to California’s “regulatory” efforts, though, is a purely business one and not at all a legal one. In fact, the ruling also makes it easier, from a legal standpoint, for states like Iowa to not sell their pork products in or into California at all.
And that’s what I recommend. There are a lot of markets other than California, including export markets, that would easily absorb those 13%. It’s long past time producers in the other 49 States, and our several territories, start ignoring California and its foolishnesses.