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Say goodbye to bacon in California! Zany new law to kill state's pork industry

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Animal welfare law will make pork farming unsustainable in California. Pork prices to jump.

Ah California, the land of nuts. And no, we don't mean the kind that grow on trees. We mean the kind that votes their own food supply out of existence. A new California law, set to take effect in January, will destroy the state's pork industry, and cause pork prices to rise sharply. Bacon is about to get a lot more expensive, and a lot harder to get. 

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By Marshall Connolly (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
8/2/2021 (9 months ago)

Published in Home & Food

Keywords: California, bacon, pork, animal, welfare, law

LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - When voters went to the polls in 2018 to approve a new animal welfare law, few of them were thinking about their breakfast. They were instead thinking about the poor animals raised by the lot to feed tens of millions of hungry Californians. They somehow managed to empathize with animals raised for food more than people that need to be fed. And they passed a law without realizing the changes they demanded would kill an entire industry, one that satisfies their food supply. Of course, like many voters, few probably thought beyond the nightmare visions of feedlots and slaughterhouses, and just filled-in the oval for "yes." Now they will pay a lot more for their bacon, if they can get it at all. 

The law, passed in 2018, generally requires that animals have more space for movement. It applies to veal, chickens, and pigs. Beef and poultry producers have so far found they can comply with the new rules without much disruption. But the nature of pork farming is different. The new requirements are forcing suppliers to redesign their pens and will reduce the number of animals they can raise. This decreases profits, which will raise prices, otherwise raising these animals becomes a losing business. 

Only 4 percent of the state's pork suppliers say they are ready to comply with the new law. Many warn they cannot comply and remain profitable. Most cannot make any changes at this point and produce pork under the new rules before the law takes effect on January 1. Calls for the law to be delayed, and court cases have not yet succeeded in putting the law on hold. When the law goes into effect, California's pork industry will collapse, pretty much entirely. Pork supplies can be imported from the Midwest, but estimates suggest these products will cost about 60 percent more. For many restaurants and homes, these costs will be prohibitive. Of particular note, breakfast diners are facing a catastrophe. 

While the new law might make the few weeks or months these animals live more "comfortable" it will not prevent their fate. What it will do is make the products we consume more expensive. Think of it as a "sin tax" on meat. Shall we begin to regulate the choice to enjoy a hearty meal as we have already done with tobacco and alcohol? In California, shall growing food be regarded as a sin? 

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Nobody likes the thought animals are raised for food and slaughtered. It is understood the final days of these animals' lives, as they are shipped to the slaughterhouse and killed, is stressful for them. Of course it is, they're being slaughtered by the lot. However, this is their purpose, and so far there is no better way to provide people with the meat they demand. Businesses that process these animals have rules and regulations to ensure the animals do not suffer excessively. But where do we think our bacon, steaks, or chicken comes from? Unfortunately, these foods do not grow on trees. They can only be sourced from living animals. 

Those who are still upset by this reality have the freedom to become vegetarian and to reform the market by withholding their dollars from people who raise and sell meat products. That's how a free market is supposed to work. Our dollars are economic votes and they tell businesses what we like and what we don't like, and those suppliers must adjust accordingly if they want to earn our money. This is a fundamental truth of economics, and it cannot be changed by mandate, or at least not without substantial market disruption. (See: communism, command economy.)

What we do not have in a free society is the freedom to micromanage other's free and reasonable decisions. Meat is part of the natural human diet. Meat is not drugs, or alcohol. It is part of basic nutrition, an essential part of our diet. If a person objects to the raising of animals for meat, they have the freedom to choose an alternative. Freedom means letting others do things you don't like. That includes choosing what's for breakfast. It looks like California is about to get yet another lesson about the problems of letting emotions, rather than logic, to decide the laws. 

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