Thanks to a reworked menu and long hours, Jeannie Kim managed to keep her San Francisco restaurant alive during the coronavirus pandemic.
That makes it all the more frustrating that she fears her breakfast-focused diner could be ruined within months by new rules that could make one of her top menu items — bacon — hard to get in California.
“Our number one seller is bacon, eggs and hash browns,” said Kim, who for 15 years has run SAMS American Eatery on the city’s busy Market Street. “It could be devastating for us.”
At the beginning of next year, California will begin enforcing an animal welfare proposition approved overwhelmingly by voters in 2018 that requires more space for breeding pigs, egg-laying chickens and veal calves. National veal and egg producers are optimistic they can meet the new standards, but only 4% of hog operations now comply with the new rules. Unless the courts intervene or the state temporarily allows non-compliant meat to be sold in the state, California will lose almost all of its pork supply, much of which comes from Iowa, and pork producers will face higher costs to regain a key market.
Animal welfare organizations for years have been pushing for more humane treatment of farm animals but the California rules could be a rare case of consumers clearly paying a price for their beliefs.
With little time left to build new facilities, inseminate sows and process the offspring by January, it’s hard to see how the pork industry can adequately supply California, which consumes roughly 15% of all pork produced in the country.
“We are very concerned about the potential supply impacts and therefore cost increases,” said Matt Sutton, the public policy director for the California Restaurant Association.
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