365,880 signatures are all the Humane Society of the United States needs to ask California voters to dictate how America’s pig farmers raise their pigs. Yes, if all the signatures are collected in 180 days, then California could place on the ballot a measure to ban all pork sold in the state produced from farms that use gestation stalls.
Taking Proposition 2 — passed in 2008 — to a whole another level, the proposal basically seeks the ban on out-of-state eggs, pork and veal raised in housing — no cages, gestation stalls or crates. Here is how the proposal reads.
• Establish that eggs produced and sold in California must come from cage-free birds, requiring that within one year of enactment, eggs sold statewide would have to come from birds given one square foot of space each — often regarded as a cage-free standard. It would subsequently explicitly require that by Dec. 31, 2021, all birds must live in cage-free systems.
• Require that pork sold in California come from farms that don’t lock pigs in gestation crates by Dec. 31, 2021.
• Require that veal sold in California come from farms that don’t lock calves in veal crates by Dec. 31, 2019.
The ballot initiative allows Californians to control how pork is raised in the other 49 States. Forget the science. Forget the freedom of farmers to select what production practice is right for the animals. Just stop the long history of raising pork safely and switch your production model on a dime.
So, any guesses what eggs, veal or pork will cost in California if this passes?
Putting aside the billions of dollars it would take to comply with the law, the ballot initiative is really HSUS’s way to whittle away at food animal production. Strategically pass legislation and ballot initiatives that impose regulatory burdens on businesses not physically present in the state, making it miserable for those who raise livestock.
Looking at the big picture, HSUS does not care if your selected production practice is right for pig, people and planet. The organization does not care if the regulatory measures cost billions of dollars for the farmer. HSUS does not care if food prices go higher because they would rather that all consumers just stop eating meat altogether. If HSUS creates enough hoop-jumping, then the American farmers will just call it quits. Have they actually met a farmer?
Nevertheless, U.S. pork producers can’t afford to lose domestic market share to beef, chicken or tofu. When HSUS puts up a barrier because the organization is frustrated that pork producers keep raising delicious pork and consumers keep eating it then it is time to get tougher, smarter and fight back.