Not surprisingly some Iowa politicians and pork producers are angry following yesterday’s Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ruling. The case was brought by the National Pork Producers Council based in Iowa—one of America’s principal pork-producing states.
The high bench said that California can prohibit the sale of pork within its borders from producers outside the state whose hog confinement facilities are considered inhumane.
Translation: If our Iowa hog farmers want to compete in the Golden State’s market, we have to spend a lot of money to expand the size of our pig confinement pens to meet California’s standards.
Iowa U.S. Republican Congressman Randy Feenstra reacted angrily, arguing, “California liberals have no jurisdiction over how Iowa farmers raise our hens and hogs.”
But that it not what the Supreme Court decided. Speaking for the 5-4 majority, Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote, “Modern American grocery stores offer a dizzying array of choice…When it comes to meat and fish, the options are no less plentiful.”
Citing a list of states with similar market prohibitions, he concludes, “Informed by similar concerns, States (and their predecessors) have long enacted laws aimed at protecting animal welfare.”
The Supreme Court’s ruling was correct. Every state has the right to set rules for the sale of products and services within its border.
Although disappointed by the ruling, Iowa’s pork producers will have to enlarge their confinement pins to promote their products in California. Or they can choose to work more aggressively to sell elsewhere.
But it seems apparent that the tide is turning against producers who raise hogs in small spaces. More states will follow California’s demand that pigs be raised in more humane conditions. We should respect that.