Iowa hog farmer discusses California law restricting hog purchasing

Published: Oct. 21, 2022 at 10:55 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

WASHINGTON CO>, Iowa (KCRG) - A week after the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments about California Proposition 12, Iowa hog farmers responded to what the change might mean.

California Proposition 12 was a public measure Californians approved in 2018. It banned the purchase of pork products in California unless the sow had at least 24 square feet of space when the pig was born.

Washington County hog farmer and National Pork Producer Council Director, Rob Brenneman, was approached by Tyson Foods to see if he wanted to make a change while they were expanding their operations.

“Our family had a discussion, and we’re already building some new facilities,” he said. “It’s a lot easier to start from anew than to refit everything and start from scratch.”

Brenneman averages around 40 thousand sows at a single time and sells 1.2 million pigs each year. He said getting in compliance with the law meant a 30% increase in the size of his facilities. That’s what he says makes this change a niche for him as he’ll pass that cost onto the consumer.

“I would have rather been asked if I was interested and said yes than buck the train and fight if something happens.”

The law hasn’t been put in place while the courts decide whether a state can regulate an industry outside state lines. While arguments were being heard, Brenneman wanted to ensure farmers were not being forced to change their farming practices.

“You have the option,” he said. “If a consumer or packer approaches you, and you are interested, look at it hard. It might be a good fit for your situation, or it might not.”