While we are all watching “the big one”—California’s Prop 12, which is now being considered by the U.S. Supreme Court—other state livestock proposals have popped up across the country. Some, if enacted, could put livestock farms out of business entirely. This post outlines just a few of the nationwide trends to watch.

In Colorado, the state Supreme Court struck down Initiative 16, which would have added fish and livestock to the animal cruelty laws. Initiative 16 would also have criminalized common livestock breeding practices. Finally, it would have required that slaughtering of livestock only occur if an animal has lived a quarter of its natural lifespan — estimated at 20 years for a cow, for example. This would have interfered with beef cattle and other livestock harvested for meat. The Colorado Supreme Court ruled that the initiative was too broad and attempted to address too many issues in one initiative, which could confuse voters.

In Oregon, Initiative Petition 13 would have criminalized hunting and slaughtering livestock—ending livestock farming completely in the state. Initiative Petition 13 would also have made common animal breeding practices sex crimes. Oregon Farm Bureau and other agricultural groups mobilized to educate the public and block the petition. At the end of March 2022, the chief petitioner withdrew IP13 from consideration in 2022.

States traditionally more friendly to agriculture are also being inundated with proposals to ban modern livestock farming. In Iowa, House File 2305 was introduced in February 2022. HF2305 would completely ban construction of new confined feeding operations and would prohibit expansion of existing CFOs. The bill would also increase fines for livestock farms and would hold integrators legally liable for issues at contract grower sites. On February 9, 2022, the bill was referred to the Agriculture Committee in the Iowa House. It died in committee. A similar bill to ban CFOs has also been proposed in California, and Senator Cory Booker has re-introduced a federal bill to put a moratorium on CAFOs (the “Farm System Reform Act”).

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to problematic proposed legislation. But a number of states already have passed impactful livestock and poultry legislation. For example, laws in at least eight states (Nevada, Massachusetts, California, Colorado, Michigan, Oregon, Utah and Washington) require all eggs sold in each respective state to be from cage-free facilities. Other states have enacted laws banning the common practice of using gestation crates—metal enclosures used to house pregnant pigs—or stipulate space requirements for animals to stand and turn around. But (perhaps unsurprisingly) these laws don’t usually get passed in states that actually raise the most pigs:

So, while the California Prop 12 battle at the Supreme Court takes up most of our attention, there are plenty of other legislative proposals and laws passed in one state that could impact farms in other states. For example, more and more eggs nationwide are being produced in cage-free facilities to comply with various state laws or requirements from restaurants or food companies. The Supreme Court’s eventual ruling on Prop 12 could slow similar state laws from being enacted—or give them the green light. Stay tuned.