Bacon may disappear in California once pig rules are enforced


Des Moines, Iowa (AP) — Thanks to the reworked menu and a long time, Jeannie Kim was able to keep the San Francisco restaurant alive during the coronavirus pandemic.

So I’m worried that breakfast-focused diners will be ruined within a few months by new rules that can make it difficult to get bacon, one of California’s top menus. increase.

“Our number one sellers are bacon, eggs and hash browns,” said Kim, who has been running SAMS American Eatery for 15 years on the city’s bustling market streets. “It can be devastating to us.”

California will begin implementing animal welfare proposals overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2018 early next year. This requires more space for the breeding of pigs, laying hens and calves. Veal and egg producers across the country are optimistic that they can meet the new standards, but currently only 4% of pig breeding complies with the new rules. California has lost almost all of its pork supply, much of it from Iowa, and pork production, unless courts intervene or the state temporarily permits the sale of non-compliant meat in the state. Face higher costs to regain major markets.

Animal welfare organizations have sought more humane treatment of livestock for years, but California rules could be a rare case where consumers clearly pay a price for their beliefs. I have.

How the pork industry is in California, which consumes about 15% of all domestically produced pork, as there is little time left to build new facilities, inseminate sows and process offspring by January. It is difficult to understand if we can supply enough.

Matt Sutton, Director of Public Policy for the California Restaurant Association, said:

According to Rabobank, a global food and agricultural financial services company, restaurants and groceries in California use about £ 255 million of pork a month, but the farm produces only £ 45 million. Hmm.

The National Pork Producers Council has requested the USDA to provide federal assistance to support the cost of remodeling piggery across the country to fill the gap. Pig farmers said they were not in compliance because they were expensive and California had not yet issued formal regulations on how to manage and enforce the new standards.

Barry Goodwin, an economist at North Carolina State University, estimates an additional cost of 15% more per farm on farms with 1,000 breeding pigs.

If half of the pork supply is suddenly lost in California, the price of bacon will rise by 60%. So, according to a study by Hatamiya Group, a consulting firm hired by opponents of the state’s proposal, the $ 6 package will rise to about $ 9.60.

In one of Iowa’s typical pig farms, sows are placed in a 14-square-foot outdoor box when they join the herd, and for the next week, as part of the insemination process, a larger approximately 20-square-foot. It will be moved to the group pen. With other pigs. Both are less than 24 square feet, as required by California law to give breeding pigs ample space to turn and stretch their limbs. Other operations almost always keep the sow in the crate and are not compliant.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture said detailed regulations haven’t ended yet, but important space rules have been known for years.

“The law itself cannot be changed by regulation, and it is important to note that the law has been in force since the livestock confinement proposal (Proposal 12) was significantly passed in 2018,” the authorities said. ..

The pork industry has filed a proceeding, but so far the courts have upheld California law. The National Pork Producers Council and the California Restaurant and Business Group Alliance have asked Governor Gavin Newsom to postpone the new requirements. The council also hopes that meat already in the supply chain will be sold, potentially delaying shortages.

Josh Balk, who leads the Humane Society of the United States’ livestock protection efforts, said the pork industry should accept the overwhelming view of Californians that they want to treat animals more humanely.

“Why are pork producers constantly trying to overturn the law on animal cruelty?” Balk asked. “It’s the pork industry when they try to defend their practices, when animal cruelty laws are passed, when they try to overturn them, and when the business trick seems to be to lose on ballots. Say something about. “

In Iowa, which raises about one-third of pigs nationwide, farmer Dwight Mogler estimates that the change will cost $ 3 million and can now raise 250 pigs in a space of 300 pigs. I am.

To pay the cost, Moguraa said he needed an additional income of $ 20 per pig, and so far the processors have offered much less.

“The question for us is, if we make these changes, what will the next change be in the rules after 2, 3, and 5 years,” Moguraa asked.

California rules also create challenges for slaughterhouses. Slaughterhouses may now send various cuts of one pig to locations across the country and to other countries. Processors need to design new systems for tracking California-compliant pigs and separating their premium cuts from standard pork that can serve other parts of the country.

At least initially, analysts predict that rising prices for California pork will make little difference to customers elsewhere in the country. Ultimately, California’s new rules could become a national standard because processors can’t afford to ignore such large state markets.

San Francisco restaurant owner Kim said he overcame the pandemic by reducing menus, driving the Bay Area hundreds of miles to deliver food, and reducing staff.

Korean-American Kim said customers couldn’t afford to raise prices significantly and were particularly worried about small restaurants that usually specialize in Asian and Hispanic dishes, including pork.

“As you know, I work and live with many Asians and Hispanics in the city. Their diet is made up of pork. Pork is huge,” Kim said. .. “It’s like bread and butter.”


The Associated Press writer David Pitt of Des Moines, Iowa and Stephen Groves of Alvord, Iowa contributed to the story.


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