WASHINGTON — Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley fears the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on hog confinement sizes will have “a tremendous economic impact” on Iowa’s pork producers and he hopes a legislative solution will help to ease the blow.
The ruling upheld what’s known as Proposition 12, a California law that will ban the sale of pork products from sows that come from pens of a certain size.
“It’s not only going to make it difficult to market any Iowa products in California, maybe even prohibit it,” Grassley says. “I don’t want to go that far, for sure, but it could.”
Nearly one-third of the nation’s pork is raised in Iowa and while California only raises about one-percent, that state consumes about 15-percent of the pork that’s produced in the U.S. Grassley couldn’t yet offer specifics on any bills in the works.
“We need a legislative solution that is bipartisan, and put it in the Farm Bill as an option,” Grassley says. “I think you’re going to see Senator (Roger) Marshall of Kansas lead the way in this direction.”
Grassley says he and fellow Iowa Republican Senator Joni Ernst co-sponsored Marshall’s bill last year called the EATS Act, or the Exposing Agricultural Trade Suppression Act, which did not win passage. It would have banned state and local governments from interfering with agricultural production in other states.
If that bill is reintroduced by Marshall, who’s also a Republican, Grassley is uncertain what level of support may come from the other side of the aisle.
“The animal rights organizations of this country are going to be a big voice in this,” Grassley says, “and Democrats tend to listen to their voice more loudly than they should, and that’s a factor that we have to fight here.”
Grassley fears the court ruling could raise pork prices while also forcing some producers to close up shop. An Iowa ag economist says we’re already seeing some of the biggest losses in the pork industry in 25 years and some farmers won’t be able to afford to implement major changes in their operations.