Proposition 12, California’s Farm Animal Confinement Initiative, was approved in 2018 with 63 percent of the vote. The voters enacted Prop 12 for the stated purposes of treating farm animals humanely and taking precautionary measures to promote food safety by reducing animal density in confined areas. Specific requirements for veal calves and egg-laying hens went into effect on January 1, 2020. The final phase of Prop 12, with additional requirements for egg-laying hens and a minimum confinement space of 24 square feet for breeding pigs, goes into effect on January 1, 2022.
Industry lawsuits opposing the initiative failed, but grocers and restauranteurs are now suing to force a 28-month delay. Critics including some lawmakers of both parties have called for putting off enforcement until 2024 for fear prices will rise and jobs will be lost.
California is allowing the continued sale of pork processed under the old rules, which proponents say should blunt any shortage and price surge.
California’s restaurants and groceries use about 255 million pounds of pork a month, but its farms produce only 45 million pounds, according to Rabobank, a global food and agriculture financial services company.
If half the pork supply was suddenly lost in California, bacon prices would jump 60%, meaning a $6 package would rise to about $9.60, according to a study by the Hatamiya Group, a consulting firm hired by opponents of the state proposition.