BILLINGS — Twenty states agree with the North American Meat Institute’s petition challenging the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 12 (Prop 12).
Montana farmers and ranchers are watching Prop 12 very closely because, if allowed, it has the potential to affect ag operations in Big Sky country.
“California's Prop 12 has us concerned because they're trying to dictate how farmers and ranchers in other states can raise their animals,” said Custer rancher and Montana Farm Bureau Federation director Casey Mott.
Supporters of California’s Proposition 12 say it establishes minimum requirements for confining certain farm animals. It would also prohibit sales of meat and egg products from animals confined in a noncomplying manner, even from other states.
Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen says farmers and ranchers deal with too many regulations as it is without California trying to extend its power into other states.
“When we see a crazy proposition like this coming out of California that's backed by liberal animal rights groups, that should raise all of our hackles a little bit,” said Knudsen. “My position is, if California wants to be goofy and mandate their own minimum pen size requirements for their own animal products, that's fine. You do you, California, but when you step in and try to tell other states how they also have to have minimum pen requirements and try to dictate to Montana ranchers how we have to raise our products, that's where I have a real problem.”
Ranchers like Mott say animal welfare has always been one of their biggest priorities.
“Well, certainly in Montana and Montana Farm Bureau is at the forefront of pushing these animal welfare laws and regulations,” said Mott. “They're commonsense approaches to how farmers and ranchers should deal with their animals.”