The National Pork Producers Council filed comments July 12 in response to California’s Department of Food and Agriculture’s proposed rules for implementing for Proposition 12 – the voter-approved mandate specifying animal production space requirements.
Although these rules to detail how producers could comply with the additional space requirements were due by September 2019, the agency only issued its proposal in May 2021, with comments due July 12.
Prop 12 prohibits the sale in California of “whole pork meat” products derived from animals not raised under the arbitrary space requirements that it mandates. Many aspects of these proposed rules mirror the draft proposed rules CDFA posted last July, NPPC’s comments state.
NPPC notes as the Notice of Proposed Action and Initial Statement of Reasons accompanying the rules acknowledge, "the law provides no food safety or animal welfare benefit (and in fact will lead to a significant increase in animal suffering), provides no meaningful benefit to California, and will impose substantial burdens on interstate commerce.”
NPPC explains, the rules – if finalized – would create a burdensome, bureaucratic labyrinth of regulatory provisions:
- requiring a virtually unworkable annual certification of hog farms;
- creating an overly complex accreditation process for entities allowed to certify those farms and the pork production chain;
- imposing overly burdensome and unnecessary recordkeeping requirements on farmers and others throughout the pork supply chain;
- imposing unnecessary and problematic labeling provisions; and
- granting legally questionable enforcement authority that exceeds the scope and authority of Prop 12.
As California has no significant commercial pork production, the burden of complying with Prop 12 – and its harmful ramifications – will be felt by hog farmers across the country, NPPC says. Meantime, Prop 12 will dramatically reduce the supply of pork to Californians, driving up prices for consumers and removing an affordable source of protein for millions of hard-working families in the state.
“Additionally, NPPC is still awaiting a court ruling on our Prop 12 lawsuit,” says Rachel Gantz, NPPC communications director, regarding the litigation now before the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. “However, we submitted these comments in the interest of reducing the burdens and impacts of the regulation.”
“NPPC and its members strongly object to Prop 12,” Gantz notes.
Two-year delay sought
NPPC’s comments call for a delay of the Jan. 1, 2022 implementation date. The original proposition called for California’s Department of Food and Agriculture and the State Department of Public Health to jointly promulgate rules by September 2019. This deadline, originally called for 28 months in advance of the compliance date, “is an essential component of Prop 12 and necessary to provide time for hog farmers to understand and comply with the regulations, undertake any necessary conversions and work to provide certification that the animals they raise are compliance with Prop 12’s arbitrary mandates.”
NPPC says, “To correct this error and maintain the necessary window for compliance that Prop 12 contemplated, CDFA should delay the Jan. 1, 2022 compliance date at least two years from the date when its regulations are finally promulgated.”
CDFA is already nearly two years behind schedule in promulgating the rule. “It is simply not realistic to believe that CDFA can complete this work in essentially two months and have final rules promulgated by the end of September 2021,” NPPC commented. “Even assuming CDFA can move this fast, this scenario still leaves only 15 months before 19,850 distributors and producer operations need to be certified. These operations cannot become certified on, for example, Sept. 30, 2021, because the only entity accredited to certify on that date will be CDFA.”
On June 25, 2021, NPPC filed a timely request with CDFA for a public hearing on the proposed rules. “We again request that CDFA hold this hearing, providing an opportunity for all parties impacted by Prop 12 to comment on the proposed rules in a public forum,” NPPC says.
Additionally, NPPC strongly encourages CDFA to host stakeholder workshops to better understand the impacts of its proposals and how best to achieve the mandates of Prop 12 if it is ultimately enforced.