AG Derek Schmidt: California’s Proposition 12 unconstitutional, detrimental to Kansas ag industry

California’s attempt to regulate animal agriculture outside its borders is an unconstitutional barrier on interstate commerce and will be devastating to Kansas agriculture, Attorney General Derek Schmidt recently said.

Schmidt joined attorneys general from 19 other states in filing an amicus brief supporting the appeal of the National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation in their challenge in U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit to a 2018 California law enacted through a ballot initiative led by animal rights activists. The law is scheduled to take effect in 2022 and would prohibit the sale of any veal, pork, or eggs produced from animals not raised in accordance with California rules, regardless of where the animals were raised. Those rules, among other things, would permit California officials to conduct on-site inspections of farming operations in other states and impose onerous record-keeping requirements.

“Proposition 12 requires farmers across the country to raise their veal calves, hogs, and hens according to California’s animal-confinement standards—or else be forced out of the California market altogether. In doing so, it attempts to establish a national animal husbandry policy, frustrates a multi-billion-dollar inter-state industry, and unconstitutionally interferes with the autonomy of the States to regulate agriculture within their borders,” Schmidt and the other attorneys general wrote in the brief filed last week. “California’s rules are a substantial departure from current practices in most states. The Commerce Clause does not permit California to upset those practices by setting a single, nationwide animal confinement policy.”

In April, a judge for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California dismissed the challenge to the California law, leading the plaintiffs to the appeal to the 9th Circuit.

“Although California may serve as a laboratory of state policy experimentation with its animal confinement laws, it may not impose those same policies on extraterritorial conduct and thereby prevent other States from experimenting with their own policies for their own citizens,” the attorneys general wrote.

A copy of the amicus brief in National Pork Producers Council & American Farm Bureau Federation v. Karen Ross, et al. & Animal Legal Defense Fund, et al., No. 20-55631 can be found at