California restaurants sue pork and bacon production law

A coalition of California restaurants and retailers is suing the state to block a law set to take effect Jan. 1 that they say could drive up the cost of bacon and create delays in the food supply chain. pig industry.

The lawsuit in Sacramento Superior Court centers on Proposition 12, a 2018 ballot measure that bans the production or importation of pork from pigs raised in confined spaces. Part of it requires breeding sows to be kept in a space of at least 24 square feet.

The plaintiffs include the California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, California Grocers Association, California Restaurant Association, California Retailers Association and Monrovia-based pork processor Kruse & Son.

In a statement provided to the Bee, Kruse & Son said the company had “no choice but to seek relief in court due to California’s delay in issuing final regulations. Without final regulations and an appropriate time frame for the supply chain to comply, the state has left pork producers and consumers vulnerable to severe shortages. Hardworking Californians should not be punished for state inaction.

The lawsuit argues that if the liability party of the Prop. 12 is expected to go into effect in the new year, the state has yet to implement the clarifying regulations that were supposed to be final in September 2019.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture is currently seeking comments on the latest draft regulations.

“This disconnect between Proposition 12 as approved by voters and the state’s implementation of the law in the marketplace leaves market participants with all the uncertainty and legal risk. Without an order from this court, the state’s failure to put in place regulations implementing Proposition 12 in a timely manner will cause substantial disruptions to the state’s pork supply chain in 2022 and deprive market participants the good faith defense of the law against lawsuits. and accountability that necessarily requires a functional certification process,” the lawsuit states in part.

The lawsuit notes that although Californians consume about 13% of the nation’s pork, most of that pork comes from out-of-state producers through a complex supply chain that can include 10 or more separate steps per several companies.

“In practice, a party selling pork to a California end-user can only declare that pork to be Proposition 12 compliant if they have the ability to trace that product through this complex supply chain to the farms on which pigs were bred. , and then to all businesses involved in the processing, packaging, transportation, storage, and distribution of that particular pork product,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit seeks a court-mandated delay from the implementation of the pork provision of Prop. 12 to 28 months after the State adopts its final regulations.

“Because the supply chain will not have enough time to comply with the final regulations of Prop. 12, without court intervention, California’s small businesses and consumers will be responsible for potential significant price increases and shortages of pork products. This will disproportionately impact the Latino community that relies on pork as an affordable protein in daily meals. We ask the court to grant the food supply chain the full two years provided for in the original measure to come into compliance,” the California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce said in a statement supporting the lawsuit.

Neither the California attorney general’s office nor the Department of Food and Agriculture responded to a timely request for comment from Bee.

This story was originally published December 16, 2021 5:00 a.m.

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Andrew Sheeler covers California’s unique political climate for the Sacramento Bee. He covered crime and politics from the interior of Alaska to the oil patch of North Dakota to the rugged coast of southern Oregon. He attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

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