By: Tara Thompson
As soon as 2021 passes, a new law will be enforced. Forcing anyone in the food industry to start planning for the inevitable bacon shortage. Proposition 12 – the Farm Animal Confinement Proposition was passed back in 2018 and will finally be taking effect in 2022. The state will start enforcing the original law that prohibits farmers from housing pregnant pigs, calves raised for veal, and egg-laying hens in cages or crates that don’t allow them to turn around, lay down, and fully extend their limbs in. The new law states pigs must be raised and bred in an area of at least 24 square feet.
Sadly most producers are confident they can get away without abiding by this law. According to NPR, only 4% of hog operations now comply with the new rules. It seems to be a hard rule to enforce if most of them are planning on completely disregarding it. Even if they refuse to comply, California will lose a vast majority of its pork supply.
It does cost a significant amount of money for the farmers to widen the pens, which is the main reason most aren’t complying as of now. But if the farmers don’t comply with the new law, the owners will no longer be in charge of these animals and nothing will happen to the animals being raised there (meaning, there will be no one in charge of killing the pigs for meat thus creating the bacon shortage). As a result, the price of bacon will skyrocket ending up at about 50- 60% more than its original cost.
Hog farmers are saying they won’t comply since California has yet to issue formal regulations or how they are planning on enforcing this law and how to go about the financial issue. According to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) “On any given day in the U.S, there are more than 75 million pigs on factory farms, and 121 million are killed for food each year. The majority of mother pigs (sows)—who account for more than 6 million of the pigs in the U.S.—spend most of their lives in individual “gestation” crates. These crates are about 7 feet long and 2 feet wide—too small to allow the animals even to turn around.” It makes you wonder how people were able to get away with this for so long and why people have just recently started to care.
A local financial worker in the food industry says, “If there were to become a bacon shortage it would have a significant impact on our company. The reason it would have a significant impact is although we have a variety of products, we’re a food manufacturing company and our products that use bacon make up about 20 -25% of our annual revenue.”
When asked if they thought they would have to stop selling that product they responded “It depends on how severe, if it’s a temporary price hit we would probably continue and take the hit. — Some consumers will pay the higher price, some would stop purchasing that item — and right now bacon is our highest volume item.”
Make sure you’re aware of what’s to come and think of how you’ll handle the situation, if or when it becomes present. The best thing you can do is talk to your peers and make sure you’re prepared.