San Francisco, California: Even as restaurants struggled to survive during the Covid lockdown in California, many fear they will not remain open if new rules result in their being unable to serve customers bacon and other pork dishes.
In 2018, California voters approved a proposition that requires ranchers to provide more living space for breeding pigs, egg-laying chickens and veal calves.
While veal and egg producers say they can meet the new standards, only 4 percent of hog operations comply with the new rules.
It is likely that California will lose nearly all of its pork supplies, much of which comes from Iowa, and the alternative is that pork producers will face higher costs to regain a key market.
Producers say time is running out for them, noting that consumers in California purchase roughly 15 percent of all pork produced in the United States.
"We are very concerned about the potential supply impacts and therefore cost increases," said Matt Sutton, the public policy director for the California Restaurant Association, as quoted by Associated Press.
However, Jeannie Kim, who operates SAMS American Eatery in San Francisco, said her breakfast diner could be near-bankrupt within months if she cannot serve bacon.
"Our number one seller is bacon, eggs and hash browns. It could be devastating for us," she told Associated Press.
Hog farmers throughout the nation said they have not complied with the new rules because California had not yet issued details on the new standards.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture said that while detailed regulations are not yet available, the key rules about space have been known for years.
Meanwhile, the pork industry has filed lawsuits, but courts have supported the California law. Also, the National Pork Producers Council and a group of California restaurants have asked Gov. Gavin Newsom to postpone enforcement of the pork rules.
Meanwhile, Iowa farmer Dwight Mogler said the changes California are demanding would cost him $3 million and force him to reduce his hog herds from 300 to 250.
"The question to us is, if we do these changes, what is the next change going to be in the rules two years, three years, five years ahead?" Mogler asked, according to the Associated Press.