SIOUX CITY (KCAU9) — Proposition 12 is set to go into effect on New Years’ Day in California, leaving many Iowan pork producers wondering just how much this new law will impact them.
Dan Paquin, who’s president of Hospers, Iowa-based Premium Iowa Pork will impact his business differently than others.
“With us being the leading provider of high-welfare, antibiotic-free pork, yes, most of our sites already complied so for us, it wasn’t a big change,” said Paquin.
So far, Paquin knows that Proposition 12, a ballot imitative passed by California voters in 2018, means all sows must be given 24 square feet of space before and after breeding and can’t, at any time, be held in gestation cages. Other than that, it’s unclear what the law entails as regulations have not been finalized yet.
“To some extent, that’s led to some confusion on the packers and supplies side that say ‘What are we really supposed to do?'” said Paquin.
California consumes between 13-15% of the United States’ pork supply, so Proposition 12 would make it difficult for producers to keep up with that amount of demand. The National Pork Producers Council estimates that just four percent of producers would be compliant today.
“What’s coming through isn’t nearly enough to satisfy the market…There are producers looking at making the investment and it is a sizable investment to build new barns but that production isn’t online yet,” said the NCCP’s Vice President and General Counsel Michael Formica.
This has caused California grocers, restaurants, and retailers to file lawsuits against the measure in fear of not having any pork products available and the price skyrocketing come January. The National Pork Producers have also challenged, in court, California’s efforts to mandate standards on business in other states.
“None of those other parts of the chain are going to be willing to pay a premium for what is still a commodity product…They’re going to be stuck absorbing all of these costs from this misguided California ballot initiative,” said Formica.
The latest proposed regulations by California lawmakers will be up for public comment until December 17. The U.S. Supreme Court may take up the National Pork Producers’ lawsuit as soon as next month.