If bacon costs more next year, blame the pork producers
Before we worry about bacon and its potential cost when new animal welfare laws come into force next year, let’s talk about the pigs who gave their lives for it.
California has been at the forefront of protecting animals that live short and dismal lives on factory farms, either to produce food for us (laying hens) or to be slaughtered and sold as food – as ducks and geese whose liver is transformed into foie gras, calves which will be served as veal or pigs which continuously produce piglets before being cut into pork. Even the animals that end up becoming food deserve to be treated humanely before they are killed.
The latest breakthrough came in November 2018, when 62.7% of state voters supported Proposition 12, the Farm Animal Cruelty Prevention Act. The law came into effect last year, requiring hens and calves to have more space to live. Beginning Jan. 1, the law will require that all eggs sold in California come from non-caged hens and that pork sold in the state comes from breeding pigs that are not kept in cramped cages. These are human measures designed to lift these animals out of structures that barely allow them to move.
Pork producers have had the longest time to comply. Some big companies like Hormel Foods are committed to doing this fully, but others have spent the last few years fighting the law rather than figuring out how to implement it. They say the law will dramatically increase the price of pork and violate the Constitution’s trade clause, which gives Congress exclusive power over interstate commercial activities. So far, this fight has been a waste of time that pork producers could have better spent figuring out how to reconfigure their farms.
They also complain that the rules of the law are not fixed. But the California Department of Food and Agriculture, which has yet to finalize the regulations, said the delay should not have prevented producers from renovating their housing for breeding pigs. The agency has publicly released draft regulations, which primarily relate to record keeping, certification and definitions of terms. As the agency said in a statement to The Associated Press, the rules regarding space were spelled out in the 2018 poll measurement, and no regulations can change them.
There are hog farms here in the state, but most of the pork consumed in California is imported from elsewhere. (Iowa is the largest pork producer in the country.) Under the new law, all California producers as well as out-of-state producers who sell pork in California can no longer keep sows. in cramped gestation cages that literally don’t allow them to get up and turn. Instead, the pig should come from breeding pigs that have enough space – 24 square feet of space – to stand up, turn around, and spread limbs without touching the sides of a pen or other animal.
Trade associations representing pork producers have sued the state, but so far have been turned down in federal courts. The 9th Circuit recently rejected an appeal from the National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation, which argued that California law would force out-of-state suppliers to make substantial changes to their operations and increase costs. production costs of 9%, which then increase the selling price of pork.
The appeals court noted that state laws only encounter problems with the trade clause if they treat state producers differently from outside producers and if they interfere with interstate trade in the country. national level – which is not the case here, regardless of the costs imposed on pork producers. As Judge Sandra S. Ikuta wrote for the three-judge panel, “[S]State laws that only regulate conduct in the state, including the sale of goods in the state, do not have impermissible extraterritorial effects. Nonetheless, Iowa farmers have filed a separate injunction against the law, and a hearing is scheduled this month.
For lovers of bacon and other pigs, any increase in cost is the price to pay for not causing a pig to suffer before it is killed for food. It’s a price animals shouldn’t have to pay.