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New Rules Could Take Californiaʼs Pork Supply Offline

August 5, 2021 by Alexa Hornbeck
FILE - This June, 28, 2012, file photo shows hogs at a farm in Buckhart, Ill. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)

The California Farm Confinement Proposition, known as Prop 12, is set to become effective next year and could mean that pork suppliers lose access to California’s large market.

The law will implement space requirements for chickens, calves, and hogs, such as retrofitting buildings, and will also implement new slaughterhouse guidelines, such as determining what cuts of meat from a single hog can be sent to locations around the U.S. 

The requirements mean pork suppliers would be required to change their process and tracking systems. Prop 12 will also regulate out-of-state production of pork, even though the majority of pork eaten in California is produced in other states, such as Iowa.

Rabobank, a global food and agriculture financial services company, estimates that Californians consume 15% of all pork produced in the U.S., and restaurants and grocery stores use roughly 255 million pounds of pork a month.

According to a study from the Hatamiya Group, a consulting firm hired by Prop 12 opponents, bacon prices alone would jump from $6 a package to $9.60 or more if half of California’s pork supply was eliminated. 

The National Pork Producers council and the Animal Farm Bureau Federation sued the State of California, arguing that Prop 12 is a violation of the commerce clause of the U.S. constitution which indicates that only Congress can “regulate commerce… among several states.” 

They also issued a request to the U.S. Department of Agriculture asking for federal assistance to help meet the demands of the proposition, which could cost suppliers 15% more per animal for a farm that has a minimum of 1,000 breeding pigs. 

The California Department of Food and Agriculture has yet to issue formal regulations, but is responsible for enforcing the measures of the law, such as issuing fines of up to $1,000 for any violations.

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