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California Proposition 12 will spread disease

Unannounced farm visits by California inspectors pose biosecurity risks.

Gary Baise, Attorney at Law

December 20, 2021

3 Min Read
Group of hogs in a barn.

Last week, I gave credit to a friend of mine, Eldon McAfee, for writing and educating the U.S. Supreme Court on California’s Proposition 12. Mr. McAfee is listed as counsel on the brief. He sent me an email and said the true writer of the brief was Matthew Berger, a non-member of the Bar of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Mr. Berger did an outstanding job representing pork producers and getting an exhibit before the Supreme Court about disease. (I recommend all of you read it.)  It is attached to the Iowa-Minnesota plea to the U.S. Supreme Court to review California’s Proposition 12. You can find the letter attached to the brief to Dr. Elizabeth Cox from Sherrie Webb, Director, Animal Welfare American, Association of Swine Veterinarians.

Of course, there is not a veterinarian on the U.S. Supreme Court nor are any of the Harvard and Yale law clerks, and of course none of them have an animal background. I would urge all of them to read Director Webb’s letter because Mr. Berger did a brilliant job of having Director Webb explain on behalf of the 1,300 members of the swine veterinary industry on how California’s Proposition 12 will be a “disaster” not only for California consumers but for all of us.

As we all know, concentrated animal feeding operations "provide every animal with access to appropriate food and water; protect sows and piglets from detrimental effects associated with environmental extremes,…reduces exposures to hazards that result in disease, pain or injury to sows and piglets; allow sows and piglets to express appropriate behaviors and minimize expression of inappropriate behaviors with the constraints of the housing type; minimize aggression…promote good air quality and allow proper sanitation…”  

Related:Iowa, Minnesota pork growers attack California’s Prop 12

According to Director Webb, as of 2017, there were 66,439 swine operations across the U.S. Director Webb believes the biosecurity problem created by Proposition 12 will lead to significant losses for everyone in the industry. For example, porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome presently costs the America’s pork industry over $600 million annually.  “Any introduction of a foreign animal disease into a pig herd would be economically devastating for all of agriculture.”

Director Webb tells the U.S. Supreme Court that foot and mouth disease and African swine fever “would result in $199.9 billion cumulative revenue losses across the commodities modeled over a 10-year period including $57 billion for pork, $17.2 billion for beef, … $44 billion for corn, $24.9 billion for soybeans, and $1.8 billion for wheat.” These numbers are not from me but are from Dr. Dermot Hayes, an economist at Iowa State.

Think about all those California inspectors visiting your CAFO. These diseases can be brought onto your property by unannounced visits from the California inspectors. These unannounced visits raise the disease control issue regarding biosecurity protocols. These unannounced visits by California inspectors under Proposition 12 are certainly unacceptable. A California certifying agent should not be granted unsupervised access for either announced or unannounced inspections.  

Appendix A is loaded with more statistics that I cannot discuss or this blog will be too long, and is the reason I recommend to all of you read Mr. Berger and Mr. McAfee’s petition to the U.S. Supreme Court. We all pray to God the U.S. Supreme Court will reverse Proposition 12 from California because of the disaster it could bring to the U.S. swine industry and to the United States economy itself.

With that cheery thought in mind, Merry Christmas!       

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress. 

Read more about:

Prop 12

About the Author(s)

Gary Baise

Attorney at Law, Gary H. Baise

Gary Baise is an Illinois farmer and attorney. He also serves as outside General Counsel for several national agriculture organizations, including Agricultural Retailers Association and National Sorghum Producers. Baise organized President Trump’s agricultural team of advisers. He was the first Chief of Staff to the first U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator. He owns a family farm in Jacksonville, Ill.

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