House Agriculture Committee Chairman GT Thompson expresses concern for smaller pork producers, increased costs for consumers.

Ann Hess, Content Director

February 15, 2024

2 Min Read
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Chaos. That’s where USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack believes the U.S. meat marketplace is headed, in the aftermath of California’s Proposition 12. During his testimony Wednesday, Vilsack told House Agriculture Committee members, there's nothing preventing any state from doing what California did.

“The reality is that when each state has the ability to define for itself and for its consumers exactly what farming techniques or practices are appropriate, it does create the possibility of 50 different sets of rules and regulations, which obviously creates serious concerns for producers because they have no stability and they have no certainty,” Vilsack said.

Fully implemented Jan. 1, 2024, Prop 12 sets conditions on the sale of pork meat in California regardless of where it was produced and includes the requirement that all products must be from pigs born to a sow housed in at least 24 square feet of space.

While Vilsack isn’t confident Congress will pass any legislation this term to address the situation, he recommended members take the issue seriously.

“Why did the Supreme Court decide what they decided? They decided it because they believed that each and every producer had their own choice to participate in this market. They basically said it didn't violate the Commerce Clause because it didn't discriminate against any particular producer,” Vilsack said. “Well, the problem, I think, is that it didn't anticipate the impact of 12% of the market changing the rules on the entire market. And I think that there's a risk of that occurring all across the country.”

During the testimony, House Agriculture Committee Chairman GT Thompson (R-Penn.) expressed concern for smaller producers being shut out due to Prop 12.

“Hearing from smaller producers, the larger producers who were prepared to go into that market have found that the volume that they prepared for is not there in California. So, they're dumping product into other states, crowding out small producers,” Thompson said.

Thompson also pointed out the impact Prop 12 is already having on consumers as well as the supply chain.

“Preliminary data from a pending study at USDA's Office of the Chief Economist shows that prices of certain pork products have risen as much as 41% since the implementation of Proposition 12,” Thompson said. “A 2023 study found that the costs associated with Prop 12 are widespread and extensive. That same study expressed that these costs have a more severe impact on smaller independent operations, and that the stress is placed upon the entire production and marketing chain will lead to ever increasing consolidation and concentration of the industry.”

About the Author(s)

Ann Hess

Content Director, National Hog Farmer

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