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Canadian Cattlemen Sep 17, 2021




Disappearing bacon — what’s next?


Reality can bite for voters ruled by emotion rather than informed decision-making. But this time, it could take away something to bite into.


Restauranteurs in California are getting very concerned that a meat staple of many dishes, especially in breakfast-centred restaurants, is going to be gutted from their menus in January. Beginning then, much of the U.S. pork production will be prohibited from sale in the state. In Iowa, for example, a major pork supplier for California, it is estimated only four per cent of the state’s hog production operations will be able to ship into California.


In 2018, voters passed a measure mandating more space where pigs, laying hens and veal calves were raised. Pig producers have been loath to spend the hundreds of millions of dollars required to overhaul production barns and systems to meet a law they didn’t believe would stand. The Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution prohibits one state from restraining trade among other states.


Many expected such a blatant move by California to set its own restrictive production standards and impose them on other states’ producers would be disallowed. But a lawsuit filed by the North American Meat Institute and joined by attorneys general in multiple states lost in California’s district court, lost at the very liberal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case.


Californians are going to vote on a governor’s recall, indicating soon if they regret informing themselves better when they voted for a very leftist governor. Now, unless their state government decides to put a hold on animal management dictates — if it can — voters may find out what not fully thinking about ballot measures can mean for both pocketbook and belly.


Of course, the Humane Society of the U.S., a very political activist group that drafted and pushed the measure, is close to getting what it wants: making it harder and more expensive for people to eat animal products.


So there may soon be openings for bootleggers specializing in “porklegging,” i.e. hams — and bacon, too.


Over 300 cattle producers attending NCBA’s live marketing committee meeting at the rescheduled Nashville convention expected some fireworks, as is common in turbulent times. Patience, however, seemed to be the unspoken attitude. The beginning of USDA’s new cost basis and volume reports for all alternative marketing agreements; an upward trend in cattle prices, CattleFax projecting better prices through year-end; the best beef demand in three decades, better second quarter negotiated cash numbers in NCBA’s negotiated cash framework, beginning framework packer participation and better weather for much of the country had evidently persuaded producers to sit tight.


Cattle producers received good news from a court not always friendly to agriculture. The Ninth Circuit turned down R-CALF’s appeal of the district court’s ruling against them in their attempt to stop checkoff collections. R-CALF had sued the Montana Beef Council and USDA as supervising agencies in 2016, later adding another dozen qualified state beef councils. They had contended that the checkoff was unconstitutional and illegal.


The lawsuit has hung over the checkoff all this time and severely hampered the Montana Beef Council’s operations. The suit raised several legal questions but was viewed by many mainstream cattle producers as just another attack by R-CALF on NCBA’s free-market approach to beef industry policy...


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