California Proposition 12, Farm Animal Confinement Initiative (2018)

California Proposition 12, the Farm Animal Confinement Initiative, is on the ballot in California as an initiated state statute on November 6, 2018.


Did California pass a similar initiative in 2008?

In 2008, the Humane Society developed a ballot initiative, titled Proposition 2, to ban the confinement of pregnant pigs, calves raised for veal, and egg-laying hens in a manner that did not allow them to turn around freely, lie down, stand up, and fully extend their limbs. Proposition 2 did not provide specific square feet when defining prohibited confinement. Rather, the size restrictions were based on animal behavior. Opponents, such as the Association of California Egg Farmers, claimed this was too vague. Voters approved Proposition 2, and the law went into effect in 2015.

What would this ballot initiative change about farm animal confinement in California?

Proposition 12 of 2018, unlike Proposition 2, would ban the sale of meat and eggs from calves raised for veal, breeding pigs, and egg-laying hens confined in areas below a specific number of square feet. The size restrictions based on animal behavior would be repealed and replaced. Beginning in 2020, the proposal would ban:

  • whole veal meat from a calf (young domestic cow) that was confined in an area with less than 43 square feet of usable floor space per calf;
  • whole pork meat from a breeding pig or the immediate offspring of a breeding pig that was confined in an area with less than 24 square feet of usable floor space per pig; and
  • shell eggs and liquid eggs from an egg-laying hen (chicken, turkey, duck, goose, or guinea fowl) that was confined in an area with less than 1 square foot of usable floor space per hen.

How would the ballot initiative be enforced?

The ballot initiative would make the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the California Department of Public Health responsible for the measure's implementation. Violations of the initiative would be considered misdemeanors, with fines up to $1,000. Proposition 2 (2008) did not authorize a state department to enforce the ballot initiative. Therefore, local law enforcement agencies were made de facto responsible for enforcing Proposition 2's size restrictions.

Who is beind the campaigns surrounding the ballot initiative?

Prevent Cruelty California, a ballot measure committee, is leading the campaign in support of the ballot initiative. The Humane Society launched the campaign committee. The committee had raised $6.12 million. The largest contributor to the committee was the Humane Society, which provided $2.12 million in cash and in-kind services. The Association of California Egg Farmers and National Pork Producers Council came out in opposition to the ballot initiative, arguing that the required changes would increase food prices and create meat and egg shortages. The Humane Farming Association (HFA), People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), and Friends of Animals—animal rights organizations—also came out against the initiative, stating that the Humane Society was colluding with the United Egg Producers and that the measure would keep hens in "horrific multi-level “cage-free” factory systems." HFA launched the committee Californians Against Cruelty, Cages, and Fraud to oppose the initiative. The committee had raised $550,000. Josh Balk, vice president of Farm Animal Protection for the Human Society, stated, "Those who oppose the initiative simply believe consumers will ignore the plight of animals being abused in factory farms. It’s an issue that crosses all demographics. We expect to win in landslide-fashion in the fall."

Ballot Title

The official ballot title is as follows:

“Establishes New Standards for Confinement of Certain Farm Animals; Bans Sale of Certain Non-Complying Products. Initiative Statute.”

Text of the measure

Ballot summary

The official ballot summary is as follows:

  • Establishes new minimum space requirements for confining veal calves, breeding pigs, and egg-laying hens.
  • Requires egg-laying hens be raised in cage-free environment after December 31, 2021.
  • Prohibits certain commercial sales of specified meat and egg products derived from animals confined in noncomplying manner.
  • Defines sales violations as unfair competition.
  • Creates good faith defense for sellers relying upon written certification by suppliers that meat and egg products comply with new confinement standards.
  • Requires State of California to issue implementing regulations.