California regulators are giving retailers until the end of the year to clear their supplies of pork out of compliance with the state's Proposition 12 animal housing law.

“Granting six months of additional relief for products in the supply chain allows grocery stores to be stocked so the 40 million Californians have uninterrupted access to affordable, safe and nutritious pork products, especially with rising food prices,” said National Pork Producers Council CEO Bryan Humphreys in a statement.

According to a joint agreement between the state of California and the California Grocers Association, California Restaurant Association, California Retailers Association and the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, the parties agreed to allow pork that end users or distributors had on hand as of July 1 to be sold, transferred, exported or donated on or before the end of 2023.

Humphreys said the development is welcome news that “California recognized the challenging situation the July 1 Proposition 12 implementation date will have on our industry and food supply.”

California already indicated that it was going to try to avoid pork shortages by allowing flexibility in how it enforces the implementation of the regulations. In a guidance document issued by the California Department of Agriculture, CDFA indicated it would not focus its “limited implementation resources” on covered products already in the marketplace. Instead, the department plans to work with distributors in need of registration and subsequent accreditation of third-party certifying agents. That way, CDFA said, producers and distributors will have options to certify their compliance when registrations will be required in January 2024.

CDFA scheduled webinars on implementation for end users and distributors earlier this month, with an implementation webinar planned for June 27 for pork producers.

“We appreciate Governor Newsom, Attorney General Bonta, and the California Department of Food and Agriculture for their efforts over the past month to find a solution to achieve a smoother transition for the entire pork value chain, including our foreign trading partners,” Humphreys added.

NPPC said it sees this as only an interim solution and continues to seek federal legislation, including the Exposing Agricultural Trade Suppression (EATS) Act which was introduced earlier this month.

“While this temporary solution does not solve the challenges and uncertainty California Proposition 12 brings to our industry, NPPC looks forward to working with Congress to find a permanent solution to this problem,” Humphreys said.

A counter bill, the Pigs in Gestation Stalls (PIGS) Act introduced by Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, would ban the use of the confinement tools for pregnant sows. 

California's Prop 12 measure has gotten the most attention, but 14 other states have some form of animal confinement restriction for sows, poultry or veal calves on the books. 

Earlier this week, New Jersey passed its own ban on placing sows in gestation crates by a 35-1 vote in its State Senate and an Assembly vote of 73-1. Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, is expected to sign the bill. 

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