Beginning in 2022, California will begin enforcing an animal welfare law that requires more spacing for breeding hogs, egg-laying chickens, and veal calves if those products are produced in the state or, more likely, shipped there from other states.
Most of that pork will come from out of state since California farms produce about 45 million pounds a month for restaurants and grocery stores that use about 255 million pounds a month, an Associated Press story about the coming regulation reported.
The new regulation means a hog producer in Iowa, the country’s pork-producing capital, is now required to add square footage to sow barns if that future bacon and sausage is destined for a California restaurant or grocery store. Only 4% of hog operations currently comply.
In the agricultural industry, adding mores space means more costs, which is usually passed to the consumer, but the AP story says California’s animal welfare rules is a “rare case of consumers clearly paying a price for their beliefs.”
"It's a real concern,” John Sanders, owner and chef at Old Town Grill in Placerville, California, tells One News Now. "It's just not bacon and eggs, or bacon on a burger, but I use pork when making our sausage. We use a lot of shank. We use a lot of pork loin. Those are typically lower-cost items to help to balance that menu to offset the higher seafood prices and the beef prices."
Sanders says he has seen beef prices skyrocket 34% over just the last six months and now comes the new requirements that will raise pork prices, too.
Sanders says Old Town Grill customers he has talked to were unaware of the new regulations, and the looming higher prices, until he shared what is happening and what that means for menu prices.
"One of them said, Well, that's just how things are. You guys are going to have to raise your prices, and I said, It gets to the point where you can't raise your prices enough to offset that,” the business owner recalls.
Old Town Grill is not cheap fast food: A bacon cheeseburger will set you back $15.50, and customers can choose an elk burger and a French Lamb burger for the same price, too.
An economist told AP that a farm with 1,000 breeding pigs will see its costs jump 15% to comply with California’s requirements.
Editor's Note: Photo by Thomas Park on Unsplash