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Nebraska hog farmers call foul on California’s new regulations

Published: Aug. 3, 2021 at 11:18 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A move by California to enforce new animal welfare regulations has pig farmers in Nebraska and Iowa calling foul.

“We’ve always had the welfare of the animal in mind because if a pig isn’t comfortable they’re not going to produce very well,” said Bill Luckey of Columbus, NE.

Luckey, who’s a member of the National Pork Board, said California’s new regulations requiring more space for breeding hogs isn’t necessary.

“Just because someone thinks it’s better to have more square footage, I think it’s better for the producer to have the choice,” said Luckey, noting farmers know their animals best.

“We’re in there with those animals every single day and we know what they like and we know when they are comfortable by their body language,” said Luckey.

If farmers don’t comply with the new law their meat won’t be allowed into California; a state that relies heavily on imports.

“They don’t have a lot of hog production in that state so a lot of their meat is imported and all that meat has to meet their requirements, so it’s going to be a challenge for them,” said Luckey.

And, with just four percent of hog operations across the country ready to meet the regulations, California could lose the bulk of its pork supply unless the courts intervene, or some exceptions are made.

“I’m thinking there may have been some instances where people weren’t real well informed about the impact was going to have on them,” said Luckey.

As for how much he stands to lose, Luckey said the new requirements are clear enough yet to know.

“There’s a lot of different activity going on as far as changing it, or questioning it, so it’s hard for me to understand it right now,” he said.

Proposition 12 was passed by California voters in 2018 and is set to go into effect January 1, 2022.

The pork industry has filed lawsuits, but courts have held up the California law.

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