Congress must stop misguided chaotic CA policies

Prop 12 is proving to be costly for not only Iowa pig farmers but California consumers too. I am glad to see the U.S. House Ag Committee taking steps in the farm bill to protect producers from a patchwork of state laws like this.

My name is Trish Cook and I am a farmer from Buchanan County where my family raises pigs, corn, and soybeans. Our farm markets over 40,000 pigs annually and my husband and I have been involved in this industry for nearly three decades. We raised our family on our farm, and we like to think that our three children are the best crop that we have ever raised.

I take pride in producing sustainable protein for consumers while keeping animals’ well-being top of mind. These efforts are done by abiding by the industry’s WeCare ethical principles which include food safety, animal well-being, public health, environment, our people, and our community.

By raising less than 2% of the nation’s pork, California should not be telling producers across the country, let alone the top pork producing state, how to raise their animals.

In 2018, California voters passed a ballot measure known as Proposition 12, which regulates sow housing space requirements for producers and processors selling certain pork products into the state. It is sad to hear some communities could go hungry because prices have surged since the law took effect in July 1, 2023. Recent data from U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of the Chief Economist also has shown costs for loins, ribs, and bellies have increased an average of 20% in California. I’ve seen this firsthand. This spring, I visited a retail store there. The store employee showed us the fresh meat case. He said customers had asked why the price of pork had gone up and he told them Prop 12.

For example, a nationally branded one-pound package of bacon was $10.99. My local retailer had the identical brand and size for $4.98. The same California store had a dozen eggs with the cheapest price of $6/dozen. The store employee noted customers didn’t know what Prop 12 was or remember voting on it in 2018.

The SCOTUS opinion on Prop 12 in May 2023 reminded us that only Congress has the power to regulate interstate commerce. We truly appreciate the Iowa delegation’s support and sincerely thank Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, and Reps. Ashley Hinson, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Zach Nunn, and Randy Feenstra for continuing to stand up for the pork industry, as they have done time and time again.

Lawmakers must act on the farm bill now so pig farmers can have the certainty needed to provide sustainable, affordable, and nutritious protein for all consumers well into the future and years to come. Without a fix to Prop 12 in the farm bill, it opens a state-to-state patchwork of rules to come in many industries, not just pork.


Trish Cook is a farmer from Buchanan County.


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