Will Bacon Become Prohibitively Expensive in California due to New Pig Farming Law?

Consumers in California may soon be faced with sticker shock for a dish as simple as bacon and eggs.

Image Source: agri-pulse.com

In 2018, 62.66% of California voters voted Yes to Proposition 12. The legislation, called the “Farm Animal Confinement Initiative,” does not go into effect until January 1, 2022.

Proposition 12, a law in California that will require a larger minimum confinement area for pigs, egg-laying chicken, and calves.

Prop 12 doesn’t “ban” bacon or other pork products, but does ban the sale of products from any farm — in or out of California — that doesn’t meet those new standards. The legislation will impact farmers, restaurateurs, and consumers, as the price of pork will likely increase in a few years.

Prop 12 also creates a challenge for slaughterhouses, which often send different cuts of a single hog to locations around the nation and even to other countries. Pork processors will need new systems to track California-compliant hogs and separate those cuts from pork that does not comply with Prop 12 standards that can be sold in the rest of the country.

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The pork industry has filed lawsuits to revoke or delay the law, but so far courts have dismissed these attempts.

13 other states including Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, and Washington have all passed legislation or regulations that ban things like gestation crates, battery cages, and veal crates in their states, and also ban the sale of products that have come from animals raised in these conditions.

Why Will Pork Products Become More Expensive in California?

Californians consume 225 million pounds of pork each month. That’s about 15 percent of the total amount of pork consumed nationwide each month.

Image Source: ca.gov

However, farmers inside California only produce approximately 45 million pounds of pork each month, so the vast majority of pork consumed by Californians comes from farmers in other states.

Currently, only 4 percent of pork farms across the country meet the new standards for the minimum confinement area, which may cause the price of pork to increase dramatically within just a few years. Since farmers will need to spend more money on their pigs, that will also increase the price of popular meats like bacon, pork chops, and sausage.

In Iowa, which raises about one-third of the nation’s hogs, farmer Dwight Mogler estimates the changes would cost him $3 million and allow room for 250 pigs in a space that now holds 300.

Eventually, however, some analysts believes that pork prices will increase throughout the entire country, as processors cannot afford to simply the huge market for pork in California and would need to bring their entire operations into compliance with Prop 12 even if the products will be sold in states other than California.

What do you think? Is it time to invest in a deep freezer and stockpile bacon? Or are there any benefits to a higher price for pork products?

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