KANSAS CITY, MO. – The North American Meat Institute (NAMI) said proposed rules to implement California’s Proposition 12 animal confinement law remain flawed and more time is needed for compliance despite modifications to the proposed rules.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), the agency tasked with developing rules to implement the law, announced modifications to Prop 12. NAMI said some of the changes recognize the complexity of the pork supply chain but don’t go far enough.

In comments submitted to the CDFA in July and during an August public hearing, NAMI noted that “…the proposal to allow pork distributors to self-certify before Jan. 1, 2024, does not adequately address the severe limitations in pork producer and distributor access to accredited certifying agencies or the logistical limitations in having a third-party on site at facilities created by COVID-19 circumstances or other biosecurity reasons.”

“Until CDFA publishes final rules, no one can adequately prepare to comply with a law with criminal sanctions and that authorizes civil litigation,” said Mark Dopp, general counsel and chief operating officer at NAMI. “Rather than apply ‘band aids’ to address some challenges, NAMI suggests CDFA go further and afford everyone in the supply chain, from hog producers all the way to foodservice and retail entities, the 28-month preparation time the law, and the voters, contemplated before enforcing any aspect of Prop 12 or its regulations.”

California voters approved Proposition 12 in 2018. The law establishes specific minimum requirements for confinement of laying hens, breeding pigs and veal calves beginning in 2022, so the deadline for producers to comply with the law is fast approaching. Two food manufacturers have said they will comply with Prop. 12 when it goes into force January 2022.

“Seaboard Foods will no longer sell certain whole pork products into California due to California’s Proposition 12,” said David Eaheart, senior director of communications and brand marketing at Seaboard Foods.

Hormel Foods Corp. has assessed Proposition 12 and, while it is still awaiting final clarity on specific details and rules, the company is preparing to fully comply when the law goes into effect on January 1, 2022. The company’s Applegate portfolio of products already complies with Proposition 12.

Hormel Foods said that while the company “…faces no risk of material losses from compliance with Proposition 12” the law will add complexity to the company’s supply chain, including costs associated with compliance. However, Hormel committed to meeting the needs of consumers and customers throughout California.

“As a global branded food company, we have a broad range of products that we currently sell in the state of California – from SKIPPY peanut butter to WHOLLY guacamole. Proposition 12 impacts the company’s fresh pork business,” the company said. “Hormel Foods is currently working with its supply chain to implement internal processes for segregation and SKU expansion. We are currently working through supply and logistics planning surrounding affected products but expect a full range of Proposition 12-compliant products to be available in both retail and foodservice.

“We understand that California voters feel strongly about this issue and as a company that cares about its consumers, we will continue to work closely with our customers to ensure that our consumers in the state of California will still be able to purchase the Hormel Foods products that they depend upon,” Hormel said.