Canada Studying California’s Proposition 12

Canada’s livestock industry says California’s attempt to impose animal care orders on out-of-state farmers and on out-of-country farmers, are not allowed under Inter-State or International Trade regulations. However, there seems to be very little clarity on just what rules California is breaking.

California’s Proposition 12 has been in force in since July. But beginning in the new year, pork importing distributors will need to submit third-party certification to California officials that their products are in compliance with that state’s new regulations. 

Canada’s farm animal care codes are part of its trade agreement with the U.S.  Stephen Heckbert, the executive director of the Canadian Pork Council says that, under the USMCA deal, provinces and states are not permitted to create non-tariff trade barriers. But Heckbert says California has clearly done just that. And, with the U.S. Supreme Court’s favorable ruling, Stephen Heckbert says that livestock groups are in discussion with Ottawa over the issue.

“It’s a State proposition. Something like this has a direct impact. It’s important to remember that it actually impacts beef and chicken as well. The Supreme Court may not have understood the kind of interstate commerce implications this will, in fact, have, in terms of states being able to make, frankly, non-tariff trade barriers that will deal with international trade. International trade, and international trade agreements are the sole provision of the U,S, government. We’re working with our government, here, to see the impact of this Supreme Court decision.” 

The Canadian government has issued a statement saying that it is currently analyzing the issue, and is considering the U.S. obligations under both the World Trade Organization and the existing USMCA.

The Canadian Pork Council and other livestock groups say that the state of California’s new rules are going to have international Trade ramifications. However, Stephen Heckbert says that he is at a loss as to just how California is going to enforce their state rules on other American states, or other countries, come 2024 when the new codes are to be implemented.

“Does California, now, have a nation-wide auditing system, where they will send inspectors to each of these barns, facilities? And, if I’m in Iowa, or I’m in Nebraska, do I want inspectors from California? Whether the state of California now intends to send inspectors around Canada to determine who is Prop 12 compliant? I’m not really sure how California intends to do that. There’s a whole bunch of implications.”