California will begin enforcing Proposition 12, the “Farm Animal Confinement Proposition,” next year. It passed by a wide margin in 2018 and requires farmers to upgrade the size of their spaces for breeding pigs, egg-laying chickens, and veal calves. It also bans the sale of products from any farm — in or out of California — that doesn’t meet those new standards.
Prop 12 is considered a win for animal rights groups, who have been pushing for more humane treatment of farm animals for years.
The same cannot be said for hog farmers or bacon lovers. Californians consume roughly 15% of all pork produced in the nation, but they largely rely on other states to get their fill, according to The Associated Press. If out-of-state producers want to keep selling to California, they’d have to start complying with Prop 12, which would cause prices to skyrocket nationally. If they don’t comply, prices will go up in California specifically, and shortages could be on the horizon.
“Now I find myself, when I hear about the potential shortage, wondering if I need to race to my closest wholesale distributor and buy up their wonderful precooked bacon before the holidays,” says Ed Kilgore, political columnist for New York Magazine who penned an editorial about the potential pork crisis earlier this week. “It’s doing, actually, what the initiative was really intended to do on a broader scale, which is to make people think a little bit more about their choices of food.”
“There’s some talk of an amendment … but I think it's unlikely,” Kilgore says. “I think we’re going to see some expensive bacon and possibly a supply disruption, or these threats could turn out to be a little disingenuous. We’ll just have to see.”