While price is the key concern for grocery shoppers at the meat case, a Purdue survey indicates that consumers are more willing to accept higher pork prices if they are the result of meeting animal welfare standards such as California’s Proposition 12, which requires farmers to give breeding sows more room to stand up, lie down, and turn around.
The president of the National Pork Producers Council, which fought California’s Proposition 12 animal welfare law all the way to the Supreme Court, said on Tuesday he won’t convert his Missouri hog farm to satisfy the California rules. Scott Hays told reporters that it wasn’t clear if making the required renovations, meant to give breeding sows more room to move about, would pay off.
Large-scale farmers and ranchers are slightly more optimistic than they were last month that Congress will pass a farm bill this year, but they doubt it will be a vehicle for overturning California’s Proposition 12 animal welfare law, said the Ag Economy Barometer on Wednesday. The pork industry is seeking a legislative override of Prop 12 after losing a Supreme Court challenge to the voter-approved law in May.
Irked by California’s Proposition 12, seven farm-state senators announced legislation on Thursday to prohibit states from regulating agricultural production in other states. Virtually anyone — producer, distributor, trade group, transporter, consumer, and laborer were named in the bill — would be empowered to challenge such regulatory infringement in court and seek financial compensation.
In a 5-4 decision on Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a California law that regulates the treatment of sows and other farmed animals and prevents the sale of meat products from other states that do not meet its requirements. The Humane Society of America has called it “the strongest law in the world addressing animal confinement,” while farm interests claim that it interferes with interstate commerce protected by the U.S. Constitution. (No paywall)
With California's Proposition 12 animal welfare law set to go into effect on Jan. 1, two farm groups asked the Supreme Court to invalidate the voter-approved standards as an unconstitutional burden on farmers and consumers everywhere. Prop 12 bans the sale of pork products that are produced outside the state but do not match California's rules.
After years of fighting California's voter-approved Proposition 12 in court, meatpackers and the pork industry are asking for more time to comply with its animal welfare requirements. Estimates of the impact on consumers when Prop 12 takes effect on Jan. 1 vary widely, from increased pork costs of $10 per person annually to a warning by a hog-state senator that bacon could cost $17 a pound next year.