DAVIS, Calif. — California’s Proposition 12, will soon require additional space for certain farm animals, including breeding pigs (mother sows). As the January 2022 date for full implementation of Prop 12 approaches, some warn of upcoming bacon shortages and up to 60% higher pork prices, while others downplay any negative effects on Californians. What are the real impacts of Prop 12? UC Davis economists estimate that California pork consumers will lose $320 million per year from the market impacts of Prop 12. California consumers will pay about 8% more for pork regulated under Prop 12 and will consume around 6% less of that pork per year.
California’s Prop 12 is now set to be implemented as planned following the 9th Circuit Court’s recent rejection of legal challenges. Republican senators from Iowa have even proposed federal legislation to stop implementation of Proposition 12, fearing economic damage to their hog farmers. Meanwhile, Prop 12 supporters claim that the new regulations will give more space to sows confined to stalls so small that they can’t turn around.
Prop 12 requires each sow whose piglets are raised for uncooked cuts of pork sold in California—about 9% of North American sows—to have a minimum of 24 square feet of space. Since Prop 12 applies only to sows, not to their offspring who are raised for meat, it will apply to less than one percent of the 76 million U.S. hogs.
Around 30% of North American sows are already in group housing rather than stalls. The high cost of converting stalls means that the California supply will come from sows already in group housing. Thus, the California Prop 12 regulations will not help sows housed in stalls to gain more space and mobility.
The added costs to Californians of a bit more space for group-housed sows that are transitioned to compliance with Prop 12, including the costs of segregation, product tracing, and new labeling, will cause the cost of regulated pork products in California to rise by about $0.25 per pound. The research also indicates almost no change in the prices of pork products sold outside of California.
To learn more about the coming impact of Prop 12 on California consumers and the North American pork supply chain, read the full article by Ph.D. Candidate Hanbin Lee and Distinguished Professors Richard J. Sexton and Daniel A. Sumner all from the UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics: “Voter-Approved Proposition to Raise California Pork Prices.” ARE Update 24(6): 5–8. UC Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics online at https://giannini.ucop.edu/filer/file/1629132628/20134.
ARE Update is a bimonthly magazine published by the Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics to educate policymakers and agribusiness professionals about new research or analysis of important topics in agricultural and resource economics. Articles are written by Giannini Foundation members, including University of California faculty and Cooperative Extension specialists in agricultural and resource economics, and university graduate students. Learn more about the Giannini Foundation and its publications at https://giannini.ucop.edu/.
Ria DeBiase, Communications Director, Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics, (530) 752-3508, email@example.com.
Daniel A. Sumner, Distinguished Professor, Department of Agriculture and Resource Economics, UC Davis, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Richard J. Sexton, Distinguished Professor, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, UC Davis and Co-editor, ARE Update, Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics, email@example.com.