Pork Producers Sound Alarm on California's Proposition 12

Aug. 2, 2021
California will suffer a shortage of pork if a mandate for humane treatment of animals goes into effect, pork processors are warning.

California will suffer a shortage of bacon and other pork cuts, with significantly higher prices, if a mandate for humane treatment of animals goes into effect, pork processors are warning.

Proposition 12, passed overwhelmingly by California voters in 2018, is due to take effect at the beginning of next year. It requires that all meat sold in the state come from animals that have been raised in spaces of a minimum size, even if they were raised outside of California.

The minimum space for sows is 24 sq. ft. In Iowa and other hog-producing states, breeding sows are typically kept in gestation crates of about 14 sq. ft.

According to one estimate, only about 4% of hog farms operate according to California’s standards. Complying with them would add 15% to hog producers’ costs, an economist at North Carolina State University predicted. California consumes 225 million pounds of pork a month but its farms produce only 45 million, according to a Rabobank estimate.

Courts have upheld Proposition 12 against lawsuits by pork producers, who are trying to get implementation of the law delayed. Its supporters say the pork industry should be trying to figure out how to comply instead of fighting.

“It says something about the pork industry when it seems its business operandi is to lose at the ballot when they try to defend the practices and then when animal cruelty laws are passed, to try to overturn them,” a spokesperson for the Humane Society of the United States told AP.

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