Shane Commentary

      

National Pork Producers Face Proposition #2 Restrictions

Aug 4, 2017

    

It is enigmatic that the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) which opposed to the “Egg Bill” which would have created a common standard for the housing of hens is now fighting to preserve gestation crates as a rearguard action.

Opposition by the NPPC and other elements in their industry led in large measure to the UEP abandoning the initiative in January 2014. At the time pork producers were concerned that a Federal standard for hens would represent a “slippery slope” and extend to pork.

  

Neil Dierks, CEO of the NPPC delivered testimony to a Congressional Committee advocating a Federal prohibition on any state imposing regulatory burdens on businesses outside that state. A situation which has impacted the egg production industry since the implementation of California AB 1437.

Representative James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) has introduced H.R. 2887 – The No Regulation Without Representation Act of 2017.

Nine states have banned gestation crates and California and Massachusetts enacted ballot initiatives to impose restrictions on introduction of eggs, pork and veal from states which do not conform to individual state regulations.

When California adopted Proposition #2 in 2008, the state soon enacted AB1437 to protect the domestic industry.  The law imposed space requirements for flocks producing eggs shipped to California after January 1, 2015 requiring conformity to CADFA Regulation 1350 (d).

Subsequent litigation introduced by a consortium of Attorneys General of Midwest states were rejected by a Federal District court and the regulations have been in effect for 31 months.

With respect to the issue of gestation crates, the train has long since left the station.  Consumers, welfare organizations and major customers have all declared their rejection of the system and major pork producers including Tyson Foods and Smithfield have either phased out or are in the processing of converting to group housing of sows.

California law AB 1437 has not yet been considered by a Federal Appeals court to determine constitutionality with specific reference to the Commerce Clause which assigns to Congress the right to regulate interstate trade.  The initial lawsuit and subsequent appeal concerning AB 1437 was rejected on the grounds that the Attorneys General had no standing and were in fact representing egg farmers in their respective states and could not demonstrate any specific damage from the California statute to the citizenry of Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Alabama.

If H.R. 2887 is passed and withstands challenge, AB 1437 will be ultra vires. The field will then open up for production of eggs destined to California from hens housed at 67 inches2 to the detriment of producers in that state.

In retrospect it may have been strategically beneficial for the pork producers to have supported our egg industry in 2013.  Their opposition at the time was parochial and self-centered.  The reality is that the segments of the pork industry still using gestation crates will either have to adapt to an alternative system or cease production given consumer and customer demands.