Farmers foresee higher production prices, higher pork store prices

Published: May. 22, 2023 at 7:03 PM CDT
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BLOOMINGTON (25News Now) - While Illinois is ranked fourth in pork production in the U.S., local farmers said a California policy could be challenging to the pork industry.

Proposition 12, known as “Prop 12″, passed the Supreme Court by a 5-4 decision earlier in May and will ban the sale of pork in California from anywhere in the U.S. that confines pigs.

The Illinois Farm Bureau said this could impact farmers in central Illinois because of all of the exports that leave California.

Prop-12 requires farmers in that state to increase the size of pig pens to 24 square feet per breeding female. That total is larger than most anywhere else.

The National Pork Producers Council opposed the proposition because it puts farmers and the industry in a tough financial position, with no real gain to animal welfare.

One farmer says he keeps pregnant pigs in crates for four weeks (post-pregnancy) to protect their pregnancies and offspring.

While Illinois is ranked fourth in pork production in the U.S., local farmers say the California policy could challenge the pork industry.

“If you do not do this, these animals fight,” said Polo Farmer Brian Duncan. “They are very aggressive animals. They injure each other, and you lose a lot of pregnancies.”

Duncan said the regulations will require him to expand those pens, but the Illinois Farm Bureau claimed this could drive farmers out of the industry. One woman says production and store prices could climb for pork.

“Our pig farmers will try to make this work and try to figure out the best way forward, in order to provide a safe, wholesome, nutritious product,” said Illinois Farm Bureau Associate Director Tasha Bunting. “Hopefully, it won’t be so astronomical that people can’t afford it anymore.”

While the California law goes into effect July 1, Tasha Bunting said she does not know when it could affect central Illinois farmers or pork prices.

Meanwhile, Duncan added he doesn’t know if he will be able to keep his pork farm in business due to the additional costs and regulations.