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In today’s environment, the agricultural industry is navigating an array of ever-changing rules and regulations industry-wide. For producers, this can be confusing and difficult to strive to keep pace with the evolving landscape. The complexity of these regulations may contribute to the difficulty in understanding and complying with all requirements. Additionally, keeping up with the frequent changes amidst the demands of day-to-day farm management. Despite the challenges, it is still crucial for producers to stay informed and engaged on the latest issues. 

One of the most significant topics currently in the swine industry is Proposition 12. While this proposition is often considered more relevant to the commercial sector, it is vital for those in the show pig industry to recognize that it also applies to them. 

What is Proposition 12?

Proposition 12 addresses the living conditions of certain farm animals, including pigs, chickens, and veal calves, setting a new minimum space requirements for their confinement. This legislation aims to provide more humane conditions by mandating specific square footage for the living space of these animals.

For swine, Proposition 12 stipulates that breeding pigs must have at least 24 square feet of floor space. The requirements for their enclosures include allowing the animals to turn around freely, lie down, stand up, and fully extend their limbs. Additionally, the sale of pork in California from farms that do not meet these space requirements is prohibited. The complexity of this proposition becomes evident when comparing the commercial swine industry with the show pig industry, as the focus shifts from pigs to pork. Once a pig is processed into pork, it must comply with Proposition 12 standards.

To ensure access to the most accurate and up-to-date information, resources provided by the National Pork Producers Council offer valuable insights and updates on this legislation.

What are the new rules for Proposition 12? 

Under Proposition 12, any whole pork meat sold within California must originate from pigs born to sows that had at least 24 square feet of space and could stand up and turn around freely, without touching another animal or the sides of their enclosure, throughout their lives. There are specific exceptions, such as during transportation, and in the farrowing period, defined as five days before the expected delivery date and any day when a sow is nursing piglets. Additionally, a sow may be confined for up to six hours in a 24-hour period and for 24 hours within a 30-day period for animal husbandry purposes, like breeding.

These rules are applicable across all counties in California. Consequently, any county fair in the state that features a terminal premium auction must show Proposition 12-compliant hogs. Exhibitors are required to present documentation verifying certification. However, if a participant exhibits a breeding gilt that will not be processed and consumed in California, compliance with Proposition 12 is not mandatory. It is recommended to check with your county extension office, ag teachers, and/or fair officials for rules specific to each show, as they may vary.

How does this impact show pig producers? 

Prop 12 does not apply to pigs while they are being shown at fairs. However, it is applicable to the sows of these pigs if they are eventually destined for commercial harvesting and processing, with their whole pork meat sold in California. In contrast, if the pig is sold to an individual who then processes independently or has it processed for personal consumption, Prop 12 regulations do not apply.

For more information regarding this, you can access this guide from the California Department of Food and Agriculture. 

What can show pig producers do to be compliant? 

Beginning January 1, 2024, all whole pork meat sold within California must receive certification from a state-authorized firm. While there is no standardized rubric for auditors to follow, the primary focus during audits will be on ensuring compliance with statutory and regulatory requirements, particularly in terms of record-keeping."

Given the sow housing commonly used at most show pig operations, we can assume producers in this sector are generally considered compliant with Proposition 12.

Based on our understanding, the certification process is straightforward. It involves a brief visit to your facility where they assess the conditions. The most crucial preparatory step is to complete the necessary paperwork, which includes proof of record-keeping and a detailed map of your operation. 

The California Department of Food and Agriculture offers free auditing services for those in California. Out-of-state operators may need to hire an independent auditor, which could incur fees.

Be sure to read part two of this two-part series, "Becoming Prop-12 Certified: A Show Pig Producer's Experience"

Resources  While does not claim expertise in this area, we aim to stay informed and provide you with relevant resources for self-education. Below are links for detailed information on Proposition 12 and various auditing resources.

California Department of Food and Agriculture. (n.d.). Accredited certifying agents. CDFA. 

California Department of Food and Agriculture. (n.d.-b). Animal Care Program. CDFA. 

California Department of Food and Agriculture . (n.d.). Guidance for Fairs and Exhibitions Stakeholders

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