U.S. Supreme Court to Decide the Fate of Farm Animals

October 11, 2022

three pigs walking through grass

ASPCA supporters and our allies will be watching today as the U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments in the pork industry’s lawsuit attempting to overturn California’s Proposition 12 (Prop 12). The lawsuit is a last-ditch effort to stop the implementation of the historic ballot measure, which passed in 2018 with 63% of California voters in support.

Why all the fuss?

Prop 12, when fully implemented, will require cage- and crate-free housing for all veal calves, mother pigs and egg-laying hens raised in California. Prop 12 further mandates that any veal, pork or eggs produced elsewhere and sold in California must come from farms meeting these higher-welfare standards. Currently, almost all factory-farmed calves, pigs and hens spend their entire lives in extreme confinement, trapped in cages and crates so small they can’t even turn around or fully extend their limbs. Alongside California, 13 other states have banned these forms of cruel confinement.

In response to growing consumer demand for more humanely produced animal products, many farms–especially in the egg industry–have already shifted to cage-free systems that meet Prop 12 requirements. And many large companies like Tyson and Smithfield have publicly stated that they will be able to comply with the law.

Still, the National Pork Producers Council, the party behind the lawsuit, is fighting to maintain the cruel status quo and has taken their case to overturn Prop 12 all the way to the Supreme Court despite losing in every lower court.

The ASPCA officially weighed in on the case in August 2022, filing an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in support of Prop 12 and more humane standards for farm animals. 

While the Supreme Court’s final ruling may not come out for months, we’ll keep advocating and building support for more humane farming practices. Higher-welfare farming is not only better for animals—it’s also far less likely to lead to environmental destruction, climate change and disease outbreaks like pandemics. 

Instead of continuing to support a broken system that is failing all of us, we need a bold vision for a more humane food system, free of factory farming. Learn more about what you can do by joining our Factory Farming Task Force today.