New Law Could Bring a Pork Shortage to California



Michael Hertzer | Bloomberg

California wants pigs to have more living space, and that could make pork a lot more expensive for the residents of the state — and even bring the threat of a shortage.

Oral arguments took place in a California court this week over a new regulation that will make it mandatory starting next year for pork sold in the state to come from breeding pigs that have at least 24 square feet of living space.

California residents eat about 15% of the pork consumed in the U.S. But most of that meat comes from producers in the Midwest and Southeast. And right now, only about 4% of U.S. breeding pigs, known as sows, live in that much space, according to Christine McCracken, a senior animal protein analyst at Rabobank.

The bottom line is that hog producers in places like Iowa will either have to change how they farm, or miss out on selling meat to a major market. The National Pork Producers Council is suing over the law, with a ruling expected in mid-summer.

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