Bacon farmers in California under threat as animal welfare rules take effect

New regulations could be ‘devastating’ for local restaurant owners

Louise Hall
Monday 02 August 2021 20:06
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Bacon could be set to disappear from California supermarket shelves or become significantly more expensive as the state begins enforcing animal welfare propositions.

The regulations, which were approved by voters in 2018, demand more space for breeding pigs, egg-laying chickens and veal calves in captivity.

Currently, only four per cent of hog providers adhere to the new rules, which will come into force next year, meaning California could run the risk of losing most of its pork supply.

To keep the industry running, the courts would need to intervene or the state would need to temporarily allow non-compliant meat to bypass the regulations.

Jeannie Kim, who has run the SAMS American Eatery in San Francisco for 15 years and through the pandemic, said the new rules could be “devastating” for her business.

“Our number one seller is bacon, eggs and hash browns,” she said.

According to the Humane Society, the proposition will make sure “pork, eggs and veal products produced or sold in the California marketplace come from facilities that do not confine animals in tiny cages for their entire lives.”

Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, said in 2018: "California voters have sent a loud and clear message that they reject cruel cage confinement in the meat and egg industries."

However, Matt Sutton, the public policy director for the California Restaurant Association said it was “very concerned about the potential supply impacts and therefore cost increases”.

The pork industry has so far filed lawsuits but so far courts have supported the California law.

Hog farmers say the measures will be expensive and have criticised the state for not issuing formal regulations on how the new standards will be administered and enforced.

The National Pork Producers Council has also requested that the US Department of Agriculture pay for the renovation of facilities with federal aid to meet the requirements.

California’s restaurants and groceries use about 255 million pounds of pork a month. If half its pork supply was lost, bacon prices could jump 60 per cent.

Reporting by the Associated Press

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