Wisconsin Producer Reacts To Prop 12

California’s Proposition 12 has made national headlines because it requires other states to comply with more stringent farming regulations to sell meat and egg products in California, including pork. Wisconsin pork producers argue it’s going to disrupt the supply chain from the barn to the grocery store.

The Wisconsin Pork Association says California consumes about 15 percent of U.S. pork. The modifications required to meet that market, such as a 24′ x24′ gestation pen, could cost thousands per sow.

Despite Prop 12 going into effect on July 1, Wisconsin pork producer AV Roth out of Crawford County has decided to hold off on compliance. He says he doesn’t believe the Prop 12 specifications are humane for his animals, which is why he made the switch in 1998 to stalls. These stalls are not compliant to Prop 12.

When he made the switch from a 500-head farm with pens to a 1,500-head farm with stalls, the number of animals experiencing injury remained the same.

“And so for me, it was really clear that the pen was not the right way to keep the animals,” he says.

Roth argues Prop 12 will disrupt the supply chain not just for folks raising hogs, but for the meat processors as they try to sort through what’s compliant to California and what’s not.

“They got to keep what meat is going to California separate… which on the processing side, isn’t an easy thing,” he says. “A problem here is that we put a lot of money into our local butcher plants over the last three years… and unless the animals going into them are Prop 12 compliant, they’re not able to sort out what is, what isn’t.”

Roth is optimistic that policy circulating at the federal level could put an end to the new regulation. This was among the topics at a recent 2023 Farm Bill hearing in La Crosse featuring House Ag Committee Chair, U.S. Rep. GT Thompson.

“GT Thompson, he said he has a plan of getting it into the Farm Bill… so that it can combat the Prop 12 language,” he says.