Indiana Challenges Massachusetts Livestock & Poultry Law in U.S. Supreme Court

Indiana is leading a group of 13 states in a lawsuit against Massachusetts over a new livestock and poultry law. Massachusetts voters passed a ballot measure requiring that any pork, veal, or eggs sold in the state must be derived from animals raised with space to turn around and lie down without touching an enclosure. Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin joined the lawsuit filed in the United States Supreme Court. 

The lawsuit challenges a Massachusetts law which attempts to impose regulatory standards on farmers from other states by dictating conditions of housing for pigs, calves, and poultry when their product will be sold in Massachusetts. The suit claims the Massachusetts law violates the Commerce Clause by attempting to regulate conduct in other states. The problematic law prohibits the sale eggs, pork, or veal from animals who were "confined in a cruel manner." This means an animal prevented from lying down, standing up, fully extending its limbs without touching an enclosure, or turning around.  

Compliance with the Massachusetts law--much like the California Cage-Free Proposition--would require farmers to decrease production, purchase new equipment, reconfigure barns, and make expensive changes to their farms in order to access the Massachusetts market. According to the complaint, Indiana ranks third in national egg production and fifth in pork production. Nebraska ranks first in beef and veal production. The Massachusetts law would increase retail prices for food products and increase production costs for Indiana and other farms. 

Indiana and the other plaintiffs have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to declare the Massachusetts law unconstitutional because it violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution because it attempts to regulate conduct in other states and imposes interstate barriers to trade. 

Indiana's lawsuit was filed on December 11, 2017.