Massachusetts Restaurants Brace for Higher Pork Prices Due to Animal Welfare Measure, Trade Group Warns

As Massachusetts prepares to implement an animal welfare measure later this month, the state’s restaurants are anticipating potential pork shortages and increased prices, reports the trade group representing them, the Massachusetts Restaurant Association (MRA). The MRA, among the plaintiffs who sought a stay for the law until August 23, says the measure, similar to California’s Prop 12, mandates that pork products sold in Massachusetts must come from pigs raised with enough space to turn around.

The law, which was approved by Massachusetts voters in 2016, aims to improve animal welfare standards. However, MRA President Stephen Clark believes the law will result in a scarcity of compliant pork products and a subsequent rise in prices. Clark expressed his concerns to the MetroWest Daily News, stating, “There is going to be a shortage of compliant pork, and a price increase.”

To prepare for the impending law, some restaurants are taking proactive measures. For instance, Steve Uliss, the owner of Firefly’s BBQ in Marlborough, Massachusetts, mentioned that his restaurant has purchased an additional freezer to stockpile pork before the law takes effect.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision to uphold California’s Prop 12 paves the way for its implementation in that state this year. While certain major pork producers are already set to sell pork products that comply with the regulations in both Massachusetts and California, the matter remains a topic of discussion in Congress. A bill has been introduced to eliminate the need for state-specific mandates regarding animal welfare standards.

The impending implementation of the animal welfare measure in Massachusetts highlights the ongoing tension between animal welfare concerns and potential economic consequences, as businesses and consumers navigate the changes brought about by these regulations.