Judge Orders No Enforcement of New Restrictions on Pork Sales Until 180 Days After State Issues Final Regulations

California State Seal Sacramanto, California, Usa

In an order issued on February 2, 2022, Sacramento County Superior Court Judge James Arguelles ruled that California suppliers, restaurants and retailers would not be subject to enforcement of Proposition 12 passed by voters in 2018, which imposed new restrictions on whole pork meat sales, until 180 days after the state enacts final regulations. Olson Remcho’s Tom Willis, Karen Getman, Deborah Caplan, and Aaron Silva represent plaintiffs in the case.

The case is California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce vs. Ross. Plaintiffs include California Grocers Association, California Restaurant Association, California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, California Retailers Association and Kruse & Sons, a meat processor. The order is available here.

This comes down to fundamental fairness. It is impossible for the industry to comply with rules that are not yet in place.

Proposition 12 makes distributors and sellers in California liable for criminal and civil sanctions if they knowingly distribute or sell pork raised in a manner that is not in compliance with Prop 12, whether or not the pork was raised in state. The firm represents a group of restaurants, groceries, butchers and other retailers who are seeking to stop the law from being enforced until the state has finalized regulations and implements a system by which farmers can be certified for complying with Prop 12 and that certification can pass through the distribution chain, giving those end users a good faith defense against prosecution. Proposition 12 required those regulations to be completed by September 2019, anticipating the state and the pork industry would need time to set up such a system and adapt practices before the measure became effective on January 1, 2022. However, those regulations are still undergoing agency review and have not yet been finalized.

Olson Remcho partner Tom Willis, who argued the case, said “This comes down to fundamental fairness. It is impossible for the industry to comply with rules that are not yet in place and impossible for retailers to assert the good faith defense that the voters provided for in Proposition 12 until the state and industry have had time to put those rules into practice.”

The California Grocers Association issued a statement after the judge’s ruling, “The court’s decision to ensure regulations are finalized before the enforcement provisions of Proposition 12 take effect was the correct one. California restaurants and families are already struggling with rising food costs and the haphazard implementation of Proposition 12 without any clear rules or certification process in place would have only made it worse.”