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Proposition 12 Takes Effect - for Cages and Imports

Last month California became officially cage-free for production and imports.

Proposition 12, also known as the Farm Animal Confinement Initiative, is a California state law that was passed in 2018 to protect cows, pigs and chickens by banning some types of confinement such as sow stalls, veal crates and battery cages. Prop 12’s egg and veal requirements went into effect some time ago, but the pork provisions were delayed. Starting January 2024, the law is now realised across all industries.

This law is significant as it applies to products sold in California, regardless of whether they are produced locally or imported from outside of the state, setting an important precedent of extending local standards to imported products. 

In 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Proposition 12 is constitutional after the National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation filed an unsuccessful lawsuit claiming that Proposition 12 violated the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause.

Internationally, producers exporting to California, the biggest economy in the US  valued at around $3.8 trillion in 2023, will have to comply with the ban. 

And it’s not only Californian voters who want change. Surveys conducted in various regions worldwide reveal a growing appetite for change:

  • A 2023 poll shows that 83% of New Zealanders agree that imported products from outside New Zealand should respect the same animal welfare standards as those applied in New Zealand.

  • A 2023 survey in the UK indicated that 77% of respondents agree with the statement ‘when we ban a type of farming in the UK for being too cruel, we should also ban imports of products produced the same way overseas’.

  • The latest Eurobarometer on Attitudes of Europeans towards Animal Welfare shows that when it comes to imports from non-European Union countries, 84% of EU citizens believe that the current situation should change, either by requiring imports to meet EU standards, or a labelling system

As animal welfare rises up the public and policy agenda in jurisdictions around the world, Proposition 12's precedent of including imports represents an important step towards establishing baseline protections for animals regardless of origin.

A calf chained to a veal crate, Quebec, Canada. Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals Media
A calf chained to a veal crate, Quebec, Canada. Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals Media


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