States Sue Massachusetts Over Ban on Out-of-State Meat

Led by the state of Indiana, the attorneys general for 13 states this week filed a lawsuit against Massachusetts over its ban on the sale of out-of-state meat and eggs from animals raised in certain housing. Massachusetts voters in November 2016 approved a ballot initiative that banned certain housing for pigs, egg-laying hens and veal calves.

The AGs are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that the ban on the sale of meat and eggs from animals raised in housing systems prohibited by the state, which is set to take effect in 2022, violates the U.S. Constitution and the Commerce Clause’s original goal of preventing states from enacting barriers to interstate commerce and regulating commercial activities that take place beyond their borders.

The lawsuit, filed directly with the high court based on its original jurisdiction over disputes between states, follows a similar suit. That suit also was filed by 13 states – led by the attorney general of Missouri – challenging a similar law restricting access to retail markets in California.

NPPC fought both the Massachusetts and California initiatives and now is supporting the “No Regulation Without Representation Act of 2017” (H.R. 2887), legislation introduced by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., that would prohibit states from imposing regulatory burdens on businesses, including pork operations, not physically present in the state.

Earlier this year, NPPC CEO Neil Dierks testified on the bill before a House Judiciary subcommittee, saying: “Several states – most with little pork production – have banned gestation stalls, either through ballot initiatives or legislation. That was their prerogative, however ill-advised or uninformed their motives were. What NPPC and pork producers object to is one state adopting a law or regulation that dictates the practices of the other 49 states.”