One of America’s favorite foods—bacon—may soon disappear from menus in California. A new law enforcing animal-welfare regulations could cause prices to soar as much as 60 percent, making the pork product hard to find—if at all—in the Golden State.
On January 1, 2022, a new law will take effect in California requiring hog farmers to provide more space for their livestock. Currently, only 4 percent of operations nationwide follow these guidelines, which could make it nearly impossible to find bacon and other pork products in the state once the regulations are enforced, AP reports.
In 2018, Californians overwhelmingly supported Proposition 12, an animal-welfare initiative designed to create humane conditions on the farm for calves, chickens and pigs. The rules increase caging sizes for livestock so they can live a less-crowded existence.
While cattle and chicken producers say they will have little difficulty adhering to the new standards, hog farmers point out it will drive up their costs, and the industry is fighting the legislation. The North American Meat Institute lost their case in the United States Court of Appeals, then was stymied by the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to hear the case, reports Caroline Anders of the Washington Post.
Representatives of hog farmers claim the law was drafted by people who don’t understand the industry or just want people to stop eating meat.
“The Humane Society of United States’ goal is the elimination of meat on the table,” Michael Formica of the National Pork Producers Council tells the Washington Post.
Pork producers are obviously not happy, especially since California has such a large market. The state gobbles up 15 percent of all pork products produced in the country. The industry also claims implementing this regulation for California will drive up bacon and other pork prices nationwide, reports Ed Kilgore for the Intelligencer at New York magazine.
Though the law goes into effect January 1, California still has not released final details regarding the law. Pork producers are challenging it in Iowa, where a third of the country’s hogs are raised, claiming it will cost “tens of millions of dollars” annually to meet the requirements, according to Clark Kauffman of the Iowa Capital Dispatch.
Though the regulations are not completed, the California Department of Food and Agriculture stated that key stipulations have been known for years.
“It is important to note that the law itself cannot be changed by regulations and the law has been in place since the Farm Animal Confinement Proposition (Prop 12) passed by a wide margin in 2018,” the state agency tells AP.