House Farm Bill’s race to the bottom of the (pork) barrel

WASHINGTON (May 17, 2024)—Republicans on the U.S. House of Representatives’ Agriculture Committee have released their version of the Farm Bill. It includes language that aims to invalidate California’s Proposition 12, a state law setting landmark prohibitions on the in-state sale of food products from farm animals locked in cruel and extreme confinement. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the law as constitutional in May 2023.

Congressional opponents and lobbyists representing only a segment of the pork industry have been pushing for a so-called “Prop 12 fix” – a measure the Humane Society Legislative Fund warns is unnecessary and problematic for many farmers and producers, and something that infringes on the ability of states to determine their own agriculture and market policies.

“The National Pork Producers Council and key Republicans on the House Agriculture Committee claim to want to do the right thing by farmers and pork producers, but their misrepresentations concerning Proposition 12 and similar laws passed in 14 other states will harm small farmers and independent major producers around the country who have willingly and successfully transitioned to the new standards to meet consumer demand,” said Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund. “There is no need to introduce red tape bureaucracy at the federal level just to appease one pork industry faction unwilling to recognize that the marketplace and public sentiment have changed. This is simply a favor for those stuck on producing low-grade factory-farmed pork and other items, exempting them from complying with the public health and animal welfare standards taking hold in both public policy and corporate boardrooms. Americans who care about states’ rights to address animal welfare and the associated public health concerns should be calling their representatives to say, ‘nix the Prop 12 fix.’”

After the Supreme Court decision upholding Proposition 12, pork lobbyists pushed Congress to incorporate the text of the Ending Agriculture Trade Suppression Act or related language into the Farm Bill to invalidate Proposition 12 and similar state laws.  As this approach would benefit producers only meeting the lowest standards at the expense of those pursuing more humane treatment of farm animals, it has stirred strong controversy.  A diverse set of more than 5,000 entities have publicly stated opposition to this kind of legislation, including Members of Congress (a bipartisan group of 30 Senators and 193 Representatives), nearly 200 organizations, hundreds of veterinarians and more than 4,000 farms across the country.

There are 15 states with laws addressing intensive confinement of farm animals. These states span the political spectrum. In addition, 80% of American voters—including nearly equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats—support enactment in their own states of a law to protect farm animals.

Many major pork and egg producers have already transitioned to be compliant with Proposition 12 and are currently supplying the California market – with benefits to their bottom lines – like Pennsylvania-based Clemens Group, the fifth-largest fresh pork producer in the U.S. Pork producer Brent Hershey, a Clemens Group supplier, considers the move to group housing for sows a success story that has benefitted his business. Hershey has emphasized his recognition of the direction of market demand and significant investment in creating more humane group housing for pigs: “Our plan to move to it was a permanent move. Once we made the change, we can’t go back.”

Other producers like Niman Ranch and Sauder’s Eggs have opposed federal interference with state laws on intensive confinement including the Agriculture Committee‘s slipping language into the Farm Bill. And sector-leading companies like Hormel Foods, Perdue, duBreton and Tyson Foods have declared with confidence their ability and willingness to meet the demand for crate-free pork produced in accordance with Proposition 12 standards. 


Media Contact: Anna West,  240-751-2669, 



Humane Society Legislative Fund works to pass animal protection laws at the state and federal level, to educate the public about animal protection issues and support humane candidates for office. Formed in 2004, HSLF is incorporated under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code as a separate lobbying affiliate of the Humane Society of the United States.

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