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Bacon may disappear in California as pig rules take effect

The animal welfare law requires more space for breeding pigs, egg-laying chickens and veal calves.
Credit: AP
Jeannie Kim's popular bacon and eggs breakfast is seen outside her restaurant in San Francisco on Friday, July 30, 2021. Thanks to a reworked menu and long hours, Jeannie Kim managed to keep her San Francisco restaurant alive during the coronavirus pandemic. That makes it all the more frustrating that she fears her breakfast-focused diner could be ruined within months by new rules that could make one of her top menu items — bacon — hard to get in California. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A California law taking effect Jan. 1, 2022, could make pork harder to find and more expensive.

Voters in 2018 overwhelmingly approved the law, which requires more space for breeding pigs, egg-laying chickens and veal calves. National veal and egg producers are optimistic they can meet the new standards, but only 4% of hog operations now comply with the new rules. Unless the courts intervene or the state temporarily allows non-compliant meat to be sold in the state, California will lose much of its pork supply. 

Groups have long been pushing for more humane treatment of farm animals but the California rules could be a rare case of consumers clearly paying a price for their beliefs.

Jeannie Kim, owner of SAMS American Eatery in San Francisco, was able to survive the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on restaurants. However, she fears her breakfast-focused diner could be ruined within months by new rules that could make one of her top menu items — bacon — hard to get in California.

Dwight Mogler operates his family's farm in Alvord, Iowa. He says the hog barns would need to be expanded to stay in compliance with California's Proposition 12. In Iowa, which raises about one-third of the nation's hogs, Mogler estimates the changes would cost him $3 million and allow room for 250 pigs in a space that now holds 300.

Credit: AP
In this undated photo provided by Dwight Mogler shows some breeding eligible gilts (young breeding females), on his farm in Alvord, Iowa. At the beginning of next year, California will begin enforcing an animal welfare proposition approved overwhelmingly by voters in 2018 that requires more space for breeding pigs, egg-laying chickens and veal calves. In Iowa, which raises about one-third of the nation's hogs, farmer Dwight Mogler estimates the changes would cost him $3 million and allow room for 250 pigs in a space that now holds 300. (Janae Metzger/Pig Hill Farms via AP)

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