Last week, Judge Christina A. Snyder of the Central District of California ruled against the meat lobby group North American Meat Institute’s (“NAMI”) request for a preliminary injunction to halt the implementation of Proposition 12. NAMI is currently suing the state of California and was looking to prolong the enactment of the state’s new animal-welfare law, which goes into effect between 2020 and 2022, during its legal proceedings. Passed by majority vote in 2018, Proposition 12 sets specific minimum space requirements for animals raised for food, which builds upon Proposition 2—a 2008 ballot initiative that set preliminary measures to ban extreme confinement of farmed animals. Under Proposition 12, by 2020, breeding mother pigs, calves, and egg-laying chickens must be given additional space requirements and chickens must be “cage-free” by 2022. Additionally, all animal products raised outside of California that do not comply with these requirements, including eggs derived from caged hens, are barred from sale in the state. Many companies—including Kroger, Walmart, and Publix—have already pledged to phase out battery cages and cruel confinement from their supply chains and Proposition 12 would make it mandatory for them to take action should they wish to continue business in California.
Proposition 12 is supported by a number of animal-rights organizations, including Compassion Over Killing (COK), the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Mercy For Animals, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Animal Equality, The Humane League, Farm Sanctuary, and Compassion in World Farming USA. In addition to rejecting NAMI’s request for preliminary injunction, Judge Snyder ruled to allow COK and a coalition of animal groups led by HSUS to intervene in NAMI’s lawsuit—which claims Proposition 12 is unconstitutional—as defendants alongside the state of California. “Proposition 12 will quite literally impact the lives of millions of animals by reducing the suffering inherent to these inhumane confinement practices,” COK attorney Will Lowrey said. “Along with our coalition partners, COK is proud to represent the interests of animals and grateful for [these] rulings.” NAMI is currently reviewing its options, which include appealing the court’s decision.