States sue Massachusetts over animal confinement law

Indiana and 12 other states are suing Massachusetts over its farm animal confinement law, which is set to take effect in 2022.

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BCFC | Bigstockphoto.com
BCFC | Bigstockphoto.com

Indiana and 12 other states are suing Massachusetts over its farm animal confinement law, which is set to take effect in 2022.

The lawsuit, which was filed by the State of Indiana in Supreme Court of the United States, takes exception to the future law, which makes it illegal for farmers to keep sows in gestation crates, layer hens in cages, or calves in veal crates. The law will also make it illegal for products raised in other states and not in accordance with those standards to be sold in Massachusetts.

The law was approved through a ballot initiative, known as Question 3, in 2016, gaining approval from about 78 percent of Massachusetts voters.

Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin joined Indiana in the suit. The states allege that the Massachusetts law is an effort to regulate farming in other states, which is a violation of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The plaintiff states believe that the Question 3 law will drive up the costs of production for farmers in their states. Consequently, those increased production costs are likely to be passed along to consumers, not only in Massachusetts, but in other states as well.

“This extraterritorial regulation will increase the costs of producing and marketing farm commodities nationwide, including for farmers and consumers in Plaintiff States,” the lawsuit stated.

States also challenging California laws

Many states involved in the litigation against Massachusetts are also involved in a legal challenge against California for its similar Proposition 2 and AB 1437 laws, which took effect in 2015.

Missouri has taken the lead in that legal challenge, where concerns about California trying to regulate farm production in other states is also central to the argument.

Other states joining Missouri in that legal action include Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Nebraska, Nevada and North Dakota.

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