BACON and other farm produce could disappear from shelves in California as strict new animal welfare rules are due to come into effect in months.
The proposition requiring more space for breeding pigs, egg-laying chickens and veal calves was significantly approved by voters in the state in 2018 and are set to be enforced at the beginning of 2022.
Research shows that only four per cent of nationwide hog operations currently comply with California’s new rules – but are still optimistic they could adjust to the new expectations.
But California will lose the majority of its pork supply unless courts intervene or the state allows non-compliant meat to be sold, industry figures warn.
Pork producers, who get almost all of their meat from Iowa, will face a surge in costs to keep up with the high-demand market.
Jeannie Kim, who for 15 years has run SAMS American Eatery on San Francisco’s busy Market Street said: “Our number one seller is bacon, eggs and hash browns.
“It could be devastating for us.”
According to NBC News, California consumes about 15 per cent of all pork the country produces.
“We are very concerned about the potential supply impacts and therefore cost increases,” said Matt Sutton, the public policy director for the California Restaurant Association.
Rabobank, a global food and agriculture financial services company, estimates that Californian restaurants and grocery stores use roughly 255million pounds of pork per month, while their farms produce only 45million pounds.
If California suddenly lost their pork supply, bacon prices would increase by 60 per cent, making a $6 package jump to approximately $9.60, according to a Hatamiya Group study.
Lawsuits have been filed by the pork industry but courts have supported the new California law.
“The question to us is, if we do these changes, what is the next change going to be in the rules two years, three years, five years ahead?” Farmer Dwight Mogler asked.
Josh Balk, who leads farm animal protection at the Humane Society said: “Why are pork producers constantly trying to overturn laws relating to cruelty to animals?”
“It says something about the pork industry when it seems its business operandi is to lose at the ballot when they try to defend the practices and then when animal cruelty laws are passed, to try to overturn them.”