U.S. Meat Export Federation says there are many questions still to be answered regarding Prop 12

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With California on an aggressive timeline to implement the Farm Animal Confinement Initiative — more commonly known as Prop 12 — requirements by July 1, 2023 the United States pork industry is still reeling with questions regarding the details of verification, logistics, and supply.

Last week, we heard from the Canadian Pork Council on concerns about trade access, and whether this was an unintentional non-tariff trade barrier. Currently, Canada is the leading supplier of pork to the U.S., followed by Europe, and Mexico. With Prop 12’s new requirements regarding sow housing, the question arises: Will these imported products need to comply as well?

To follow up on those questions, Chip Flory, host of AgriTalk, was joined by Erin Borror, economist with the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Borror emphasized that Canada and other exporters would have to meet the production requirements of Prop 12. While some Canadian producers may already be Prop 12 compliant, without proper audits and verification, there’s a lot of uncertainty as to where they would stand in this equation.

This may make it necessary that the California Department of Food and Agriculture audits foreign farms — which would be an unprecedented and complex undertaking, to say the least. Furthermore, these new standards aren’t a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) requirement — making import regulations even more hazy.

“It’s strange to be auditing in California, but auditing foreign farms, and how it actually operates… it’s sometimes we’ve never had before,” explains Borror.

The question also remains on labeling of product, auditing standards, verification of paperwork, and impacts of meat currently in cold storage. As Borror explained in the interview linked above, we’re in uncharted territory with Prop 12.

“It not only alters the landscape of domestic animal agriculture, but also upends the norms of international trade in meat products, forcing us to confront a slew of new, complex questions,” she notes.

Related:

Assessing the impact of California’s Prop 12 on pork trade

Canadian pork industry challenges with plant closures

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