“We are grateful to the Legislature for listening to our concerns and delaying the implementation of Question 3 so that at least producers in and out of state can have more time to consider their options and continue to supply Bay Staters with pork,” Sorenson said.
The pork industry is now paying more attention to California’s Proposition 12, passed in 2018 by 62% of state voters. Prop. 12 is slated to go into effect Jan. 1, but the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) continues to change the rules for implementation. Like Massachusetts law, Prop. 12 affects space size for laying hens, pigs and veal calves.
Proposition 12 is being challenged in state and federal courts by a long list of plaintiffs, including the National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation, who have sued the U.S. Supreme Court over the law.
Other lawsuits include the California Grocers Association and the California Restaurant Association. The California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is also suing the state over the law. The groups typically ask the courts to delay the law for at least two years.
Further adding to the complications in California, animal rights groups that support the pork and egg changes also sued the CDFA earlier this month for failing to properly implement the law.
About 98% of the pork consumed in California comes from out of state.
Reuters reported last week that Seaboard Foods announced the company would limit the sale of certain pork products in California. Seaboard is the nation’s second-largest pork producer, processing about 7.2 million hogs a year.
A spokesperson for Smithfield Foods, the largest pork processor in the United States, told DTN on Wednesday that the company is still awaiting final regulations from the CDFA. Based on what the CDFA has already published, meat inventory and animals born before January 1, 2022 “would be considered compliant” with the law. This gives pork stocks more time to continue trading in California for the time being.
“The pigs grow for about six months before they are harvested,” said Jim Monroe, a Smithfield spokesman.
The North American Meat Institute late last week also sent comments to the CDFA on the proposed amended rules for Proposition 12. is required for compliance. NAMI noted that the CDFA has been slow to get its rules into law.
“Until the CDFA releases the final rules, no one can adequately prepare to comply with a law that has criminal penalties and allows for civil suits,” said Mark Dopp, general counsel and director of the operation at NAMI. “Rather than applying ‘band-aids’ to address certain challenges, NAMI suggests that CDFA go a step further and offer all players in the supply chain, from pork producers to catering and retail entities retail, the 28-month statutory preparation time and voters considered before implementing any aspect of Prop. 12 or its regulations.
An analysis of California grocery stores on Wednesday showed pork prices were often higher than they would be in the Midwest, but pork products are still available. Pork chops at the meat counter at Raley’s grocery store in Sacramento averaged about $2.99 a pound. Other cuts of pork averaged more typical prices of $1.49 per pound for pork shoulder roast. The cheapest bacon was $6.99 for a 12 ounce package.
Von’s in Fresno, Calif., touted the bacon for as little as $3.49 for a 12-ounce package. Hormel bacon was $5.99 a pound. Sausage links were as low as 99 cents for an 8 ounce package.
Albertsons in Orange County, Calif., was selling bone-in pork chops for $4.99 a pound, pork steaks for $3 a pound and Farmland bacon for $6.99 for a 12-pack. ounces.
Chris Clayton can be reached at [email protected]
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