July 6, 2023


California's controversial pork law takes effect, mandating more space for breeding swine



After a lengthy legal battle, California's contentious pork law has finally come into effect, compelling farmers nationwide to comply with the regulation or risk losing access to the lucrative Californian market, Los Angeles Times reported.


Passed in 2018 as Proposition 12, the law requires farmers to provide breeding swine with a minimum of 24 square feet of floor space in their pens, allowing the animals to freely move and turn around. The enforcement of this law began on July 1, with violators facing potential fines and imprisonment, as stated by the California Department of Food and Agriculture.


Proposition 12 was primarily aimed at addressing the practice of confining sows in cramped stalls separate from other swine. The measure faced strong opposition from pork producers, who argued that California, despite consuming 15% of pork nationwide, lacked the authority to dictate farming rules to producers outside the state.


But the US Supreme Court upheld the law in May, asserting that the type of pork sold in California is within the purview of state regulation.


While certain aspects of the law, such as those concerning hens and veal, have already been implemented, the provisions related to breeding swine were temporarily paused due to the legal challenges. Pork producers expressed concerns about the significant burdens and increased costs that would be passed on to consumers as a result of the required changes.


Josh Balk, the leader of the Proposition 12 initiative, highlighted the transformation that the industry has undergone since the law's passage in 2018.


He said that when Proposition 12 passed in 2018, pork producers claimed there was no way they could ever make the transition away from confining swine in small cages, but more than four years later, the industry has changed and it has transformed to meet the demand of California.


Although the law is now in effect, the state has allowed the sale of pork slaughtered prior to the implementation date to continue in California until the end of the year.


Animal rights activists, while not fully satisfied with the court's ruling, acknowledge the significance of the decision in providing breeding pigs, hens, and calves with slightly improved living conditions. Ingrid Newkirk, president of PETA, said that the ruling does not eliminate the cruelty inherent in factory farming practices but commended the US Supreme Court for thwarting the meat industry's attempt to deny animals a modest increase in enclosure space.


-      Los Angeles Times

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