Prop 12 2022 pork deadline looming large


By Matt Reese, Ohio's Country Journal

May 3, 2021


While California consumers have demonstrated a love of pork, they have created some real challenges for U.S. pork producers. Due to a number of restrictions in the state, nearly all of the hog producers moved out of California despite the high demand for pork products.


“California is by far the largest state in the country, representing 13% of the U.S. population and about 15% of the domestic pork market,” said Michael Formica, assistant vice president and general counsel for the National Pork Producers Council. “It takes 750,000 sows to supply the California market yet only 1,500 sows are housed in the state. Most of the pork consumed in California is produced in other states.”


With the approval of Proposition 12 in November of 2018, California voters approved a ballot measure changing production standards again, this time not just for the few remaining sow operations in the state, but for pork sold in the state. The proposition prohibits the sale of any uncooked pork in the state not meeting the new set of production standards spelled out in Proposition 12, whether raised there or outside its borders. With a compliance deadline of Jan. 1, 2022, less than 1% of U.S. pork production currently meets Proposition 12 requirements.


“The most important thing to know about Prop 12 is the residents of California were asked a simple question: ‘Do you think farm animals should be protected from cruel treatment?’” Formica said. “That is a yes or no question and, of course, everyone said, ‘Yes, animals shouldn’t be treat cruelly. We agree!’ Unfortunately, California voters were misled by this question, one that failed to provide context for the high standards of animal care followed by U.S. pork producers.


“Prop 12 is the latest example of state ballot initiatives animal rights’ groups have imposed on livestock agriculture. It requires group housing for sows and sets very prescriptive minimum square footage requirements. It removes the use of breeding stalls. Most production would see a 20% to 25% reduction in efficiency. With Prop 12, California has gone one step further to say you cannot sell pork in the state that came from an animal that was not compliant with the prescriptive California standard. That is causing a fair amount of disruption.”


Compounding the disruption and uncertainty is the fact that the required guidance on Proposition 12 compliance has yet to be published by California...


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