New rules in California are preparing to go into effect with nationwide implications, and they’re almost certain to leave the Golden State short on pork until producers adapt to meet higher animal welfare standards.
In 2018, California voters passed a measure requiring more space for breeding pigs, egg-laying chickens, and veal calves. But just months before the regulations are scheduled to go into effect, only 4 percent of hog operations are meeting the standard, according to a March report from the agricultural financial services group Rabobank.
“Unless the courts intervene or the state temporarily allows non-compliant meat to be sold in the state, California will lose almost all of its pork supply, much of which comes from Iowa,” the Associated Press reported on Saturday. “Pork producers will face higher costs to regain a key market.”
Pork produced anywhere not in compliance with California’s new standards will be illegal to sell in the nation’s most populous state. Absent intervention, the new rules are teeing up higher pork prices in California that will eventually make their way into grocery stores across the country, as pork producers will be forced to adapt in order to keep access to the fifth-largest economy in the world. Less than 20 percent of pork consumed in California comes from California farms, according to the AP reporting on data from Rabobank.
California Republican Rep. Devon Mathis, who has served as the vice-chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee for six years, told The Federalist he sees no action on the horizon among state regulators but said the new rules barring pork on the market from other states could violate the Commerce Clause.
Meanwhile, the new regulations fought for by self-proclaimed animal rights advocates, Mathis said, exacerbates food insecurity with shortages of and higher prices for a primary protein.
“In reality, people are out there starving and you need to have a diversified portfolio for protein intake,” Mathis told The Federalist. “Picking favorites doesn’t help anybody and it doesn’t help the fact that we have food insecurities.”
In Oregon, environmental radicals have proposed even more aggressive legislation to curb meat consumption, cloaked in the moral righteousness of climate change despite ranchers in the eastern half of the state who rely on the industry. Voters will decide on ballot initiative 13, which bans hunting and livestock production. The movement showcases the growing east/west divide in the state, which has provoked an effort by eastern counties to leave Oregon and join Idaho.
Mathis said he wants voters to be more cognizant of who they give their money to when they donate to animal groups.
“Most people out there think the humane society is out there to make sure dogs and cats have humane animal shelters, not that they’re taking bacon off the menu,” Mathis told The Federalist.