In a major win for animal welfare advocates, the Supreme Court of the United States has upheld a California law mandating the humane treatment of pigs.
The law, which was originally passed in 2018, requires pork producers to provide pigs with enough space to lie down, stand up, turn around and fully extend their limbs. The measure is intended to prevent the cruel practice of confining pregnant pigs in narrow crates that prevent them from moving.
The law was challenged by the National Pork Producers Council, which argued that it was preempted by federal law and would increase the cost of pork production. The Supreme Court disagreed, ruling that the California law did not conflict with federal regulations and did not discriminate against out-of-state producers.
The decision was praised by animal welfare groups, who have long called for an end to inhumane farming practices. “This ruling sends a clear message that states have the authority to protect animals from cruel confinement practices,” said Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States.
The ruling is expected to have implications beyond California, as other states may now feel emboldened to pass similar laws. It could also prompt other industries to take legal action against state-level regulations aimed at improving animal welfare.
Despite the positive outcome, some animal welfare activists cautioned that more needs to be done to protect farm animals. “While this decision is a victory for pigs, it is a reminder that we must continue to push for stronger protections for all farm animals,” said Josh Balk, vice president of farm animal protection at the Humane Society.
The Supreme Court’s decision comes at a time when animal welfare is increasingly becoming a priority for consumers and businesses alike. Many companies have made commitments to source only cage-free eggs, hormone-free meat, and other products that adhere to higher animal welfare standards. And with the rise of plant-based alternatives, some experts predict that the animal agriculture industry could see significant disruption in the years ahead.