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People power perturbs pork producers
So pork producers in Iowa and elsewhere failed to convince the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a California referendum imposing animal welfare rules on pork sold in the state.
The rules mean many producers will have to make big changes in the way they raise pork if they want to sell it in California, which commands a 13 percent share of the market.
I can sort of relate.
As I may have mentioned before, I am the leading food producer in our household. Last year, my younger daughter declared herself a pescatarian. That means she no longer wants to eat pork, beef or chicken, but will eat seafood. The way meat is raised and slaughtered are to blame.
The meant I had to make big changes to comply with her diet. We’ve eaten a lot of salmon. My God, so much salmon. And she’s not a big fan of shrimp, which drastically crimps my culinary repertoire. I’ve added several vegetarian dishes to the mix. Pasta and mushrooms aplenty.
When we do give into my carnivore cravings, I try to offer her an alternative. On steak night, I toss a chunk of fish on the grill. Fish sticks and the air fryer have ben deployed.
Yes, my family is not a multibillion-dollar industry. The problems of four little people eating overcooked salmon, again, don’t amount a hill of beans in this crazy world.
But in the food business, consumers run the show. You must give the people what they want.
Californians clearly want sows to be allowed 24 square feet of space, rather than be confined in small pens where they can’t even turn around. Pork raised in this manner will cost more. But if that’s what consumer want, they’ll need to pay for it.
Iowa politicians have dubbed this a “war on breakfast” and a “bacon ban.” But that’s just the typical grandstanding nonsense we’ve come to expect when powerful agricultural interests don’t get their way. From mad cow to meatless Mondays, we’ve heard this sort of bloviating plenty. Imagine if we had mobilized to save meatpacking workers during the pandemic like we did to defeat “pink slime.”
I don’t feel the least bit sorry for Iowa pork producers.
Hog barons and their allies have played a large part in bankrolling the lousy state government we have right now. They’ve donated piles of money to Republicans who won’t lift a finger to protect the state’s environment. Clobbering public schools, particularly in rural areas, didn’t seem to register as a concern for these champions of small-town values.
Hog confinements produce more manure than the state can handle, and excess nutrients end up in our waterways. Producers won’t allow the state to change the “Master Matrix” system for evaluating confinement projects, which does little or nothing in its current form to safeguard the environment or neighbors. They can’t stand the idea of allowing local officials to have more control over where factory farms are built.
Kill a bunch of fish? Here’s a slap on the wrist and a paltry fine. Governor, would you mind being auctioned off at a fundraiser? Heavens no.
Folks who have made it tougher to live in Iowa will now face tougher rules for raising pork in a way consumers want. I if only Iowans would stand up to you like Californians did.
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