Californians won’t have to endure a price-escalating bacon shortage. California’s Superior Court for Sacramento County has halted enforcement of Proposition 12 because the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) hasn’t yet released final regulations for the law that voters approved in 2018.

“Judge (James) Arguelles’ decision recognizes the complexity of the pork supply chain and the burdensome and costly provisions of Prop 12,” said President and CEO of the Meat Institute Julie Anna Potts. “To enforce the law without final regulations leaves the industry unsure of how to comply or what significant changes must be made to provide pork to this critical market.”

The ruling delays enforcement of the square footage and sales requirements for whole pork products until 180 days after the final Prop 12 rules go into effect. The judge’s order came in California Hispanic Chambers Of Commerce vs. Karen Ross, found here.

Economists predicted a 2022 shortage of bacon and other pork products in California because few producers complied with Prop 12 housing requirements for pigs.   

Federal courts permit California to impose its animal housing requirements on other states seeking access to the Golden State market. California is a large consumer market for pork but cannot meet that demand without out-of-state producers.

Pork producers and industry groups like the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) oppose Prop 12. The 350 meatpacking and processing companies represented by NAMI produce 95 percent of the nation’s meat products and 70 percent of the turkey products.

NAMI said California needs to delay Prop 12 implementation because the sketchy law includes criminal sanctions and civil litigation for non-compliance.

Prop 12 amended Prop 2, California’s first ban on three forms of animal confinement, including gestation crates for pregnant pigs, veal crates for calves, and battery cages for egg-laying hens. Prop 2 did not prohibit sales of food derived from animals “wrongfully” confined.

Prop 12, adopted by California voters in 2018, expands the Cruelty Act to ban the sale of food from “covered animals” from both within and outside California. The law applies to all business owners and operators.

The law could see a restaurant manager ordering bacon from a supplier face criminal sanctions but provide a “good faith” defense if the manager holds a written certificate from the supplier.

The California business groups led by the Hispanic Chambers of Commerce did not get everything they wanted. They suggested 28 months after California promulgates final rules before any enforcement. The judge went with 180-days or six months without any enforcement.

That could change, however.

“After final regulations are enacted, the parties may return to this court for an appropriate adjustment to the date,” the 11-page order says.

For the reasons cited in the ruling, the court found that promulgation of the regulations necessary concerning square footage requirements for governing whole pork sales   The judge the  responsibility for the regulations is “a mandatory ministerial duty.”  The order includes a writ barring state and local prosecutors from enforcing the prohibition on the intrastate sale of work pork until the regulations are enacted and the 180-day delay concludes.

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