Green Energy Victim? Large California Meat Processing Plant to Close, Cites Utility Bills

Essay by Eric Worrall

Next time Californians wonder why their supermarket shelves are empty, perhaps they should consider the road miles California’s insane green energy policies are adding to deliveries.

Smithfield Foods to shutter California meat-packing plant

Meat-packing giant Smithfield Foods says it will close its only California plant next year, citing the escalating cost of doing business in the state

By The Associated Press
June 12, 2022, 8:02 AM

VERNON, Calif. — Meat-packing giant Smithfield Foods said Friday it will close its only California plant next year, citing the escalating cost of doing business in the state.

The Farmer John meat-packing plant in Vernon, an industrial suburb south of Los Angeles, will shut down in February, with its 1,800 employees receiving severance and job placement support along with bonuses for those who choose to stay on the job until the closure, said Jim Monroe, vice president of corporate affairs.

Monroe said operating costs in California are much higher than in other areas of the country, including taxes and the price of water, electricity and natural gas.

“Our utility costs in California are 3 1/2 times higher per head than our other locations where they do the same type of work,” he said.

The shutdown is not expected to reduce supply or increase costs on products, and Farmer John Products will still be sold in California, Monroe said. 

“There won’t be any impact on our customers,” he said.

Read more:

The article mentions Smithfield received a $60,000 fine for exposing their workers to Covid.

Jim Monroe, Vice President of Corporate Affairs, has promised there will be no impact on availability or price.

I’m sure Jim means what he says, and the much lower costs at their out of state plant will obviously help. But if that meat has to be trucked in from another state, instead of being sourced and processed in California, fuel bills and compliance with California’s harsh road transport environmental laws might add to costs.

There is another potential problem.

The UN is predicting an imminent global food crisis, because of disruption caused by Russia’s war with Ukraine. I’m not trying to be alarmists, for now it appears the impact on the USA should be minimal. But if the situation deteriorates, the last place I would want to be is at the end of a very long supply chain.

In my opinion this closure effectively moves Californians further towards the back of the queue when it comes to distributing food supplies, if the coming food crisis unexpectedly impacts food availability in the USA.

[Note from Charles]

Eric, based down-under, will sometimes miss the broader backstory to US news. Utility costs are a convenient politically neutral issue for Smithfield Foods on which to blame their plant closure. Another reason for their exodus, and probably the primary one, from California is described in this article.

In 2018, California voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 12, the Farm Animal Confinement Initiative.  Under the law, no business owner in California may sell meat from “a covered animal who was confined in a cruel manner, or is the meat of immediate offspring of a covered animal who was confined in a cruel manner.”  The statute requires that each pig must have at least 24 square feet of space to avoid qualification as a covered animal from confinement in a “cruel manner.”  Although the law applies to veal calves and hen-laying chickens as well and many producers in those industries have taken steps to conform, compliance places the greatest burden on pork producers.

The law took effect this past January.


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June 12, 2022 10:11 pm

“because of disruption caused by Russia’s war with Ukraine.“

Russia Russia Russia you would think good policies could fix things😉

Bryan A
Reply to  Derg
June 12, 2022 10:29 pm

But why go to the expenditure of “Fixing” things when you have gone to the expense of “Fixing” them already…

“When something isn’t broken, fix it until it is”.

Why waste a good scapegoat when Russia has handed one to you on a caviar platter

Last edited 11 months ago by Bryan A
Doug Huffman
Reply to  Bryan A
June 14, 2022 3:53 am

Gee Zeus!

What a great meme! “When something isn’t broken, fix it until it is.”. Correlate for DON’T FIX WHAT AIN’T BROKE LEST ONE FIX UNTIL BROKE.

God Bless!

Reply to  Derg
June 13, 2022 2:37 pm

Muh Russia doesn’t bow to the LGBTQ2s+\~ … which is the root of ALL Russia,Russia,Russia narrative. Bow to the gay cabal … or else … more useless sanctions. The WEF will drive the ruble even HIGHER!!! Take THAT Russia homophobes!!

June 12, 2022 10:30 pm

…law took effect this past January.

The law also applied to all meat sold in California, a matter under some dispute. If decided in favor of the California law, all meats brought into the state must also be certified to be compliant.

The food animal living standards seem higher than those provided to some California citizens. Thus we go from 1984 to Animal Farm.

Last edited 11 months ago by dk_
Reply to  dk_
June 12, 2022 11:08 pm

Plenty of vegetarians and vegans live in California. Due to this law, a lot more Californians may end up going that route, but not by choice.

Reply to  J.R.
June 13, 2022 12:18 am

Meanwhile, the other agricultural industries have been driven into decline. Everyone in the state will be paying more for food, on top of the increased food costs, while further reducing the base economy.

Look forward to black markets, property confiscations, and government-sponsored corporate takeovers.

Reply to  J.R.
June 13, 2022 7:10 am

The left is so convinced of their righteousness that they are quite willing to use force to make everyone live as they demand.

Reply to  J.R.
June 13, 2022 9:04 am

It could also go the other way – long pig, anyone?

Doug Huffman
Reply to  writing observer
June 14, 2022 3:59 am

“Soylent Green is people!”

Reply to  dk_
June 13, 2022 7:04 am

Don’t be fooled by the deflection dealing with the California law. The real issue is electricity and other normal costs, not the space issue.

Reply to  ResourceGuy
June 13, 2022 9:06 am

It’s part and parcel of the “California Way,” RG – maybe only the rosettes on top of the cake frosting, but still a factor.

Reply to  writing observer
June 13, 2022 2:19 pm

Yep, which straw broke the camel’s back?

The taxes, the “green” energy increased expenses, the cost to increase area per animal, and any number of added expenses due to Cali being run by loons.

All of the costs add up, then finally reach a breaking point.

Walter Sobchak
Reply to  dk_
June 13, 2022 1:09 pm

Doubtful constitutionality on extraterritoriality of that one.

Reply to  dk_
June 13, 2022 2:41 pm

I just drove the length of CA … and the filthy tented homeless are EVERYWHERE. Every children’s park and playground … every city sidewalk … under every overpass … human filth. Destroying the environment … while we clutch pearls over the “climate”

Doug Huffman
Reply to  Kenji
June 14, 2022 4:00 am

Lopez-Alt? Love your work man!

June 12, 2022 10:56 pm

The autocratic command and control method is always a recipe for disaster. Ultimately California will probably have the first and longest bread lines.

Reply to  roaddog
June 13, 2022 7:07 am

FB will offer metaverse stand-ins for the bread lines after an advertising fee of course and exclusions of deniers and other Party dictates. /sarc

June 13, 2022 12:46 am

Is this what they mean by Californication?

Dave Fair
Reply to  fretslider
June 13, 2022 11:03 am

I experienced it in Oregon during the 1970s.

Reply to  fretslider
June 13, 2022 11:22 am

I first heard this term back in the late 1970s or early 1980s. It was used by long-time residents of Washington State when many residents of California started moving north to western Washington State. Our mantra was, “Don’t californicate Washington State!”

Unfortunately, they were successful in liberalizing the area west of the Cascade Mountains. Eastern Washington State wouldn’t mind forming its own state — perhaps naming it after its largest river, Columbia, the source of abundant, cheap electricity.

June 13, 2022 1:25 am
Reply to  observa
June 13, 2022 2:45 pm
June 13, 2022 3:03 am

Russia Russia Russia you would think good policies could fix thingshttps:”

Have you noticed that all of these crises afflicting the country today seem to have obvious solutions, yet the admin. does not seem to see them?. They don’t want to…It’s part of The Plan. Cf- Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals.

June 13, 2022 4:32 am

So now stock will have to be trucked out of state to be processed decreasing returns to ranchers another step towards collapse of the Californian economy,and it’s not just the energy cost it’s the risk of power cuts and the waste that will bring.

Last edited 11 months ago by HB
Reply to  H B
June 13, 2022 7:16 pm

Anyone who has ever had a freezer full of meat conk out knows how badly that ends.

June 13, 2022 6:06 am
June 13, 2022 8:44 am

California is also looking at diverting water away from agriculture to cope with the draught.

Shortages of food, water AND energy!

Reply to  Kevin
June 13, 2022 10:35 am
Doug Huffman
Reply to  Kevin
June 14, 2022 4:02 am

Bulldozing almond orchards because one almond requires one pound of water to mature. The poor have higher rights to water than the farmer can pay!

Rich Morton
June 13, 2022 8:55 am

Bidenfornia here we come….

June 13, 2022 9:03 am

[Note to Charles] Yes, that idiotic law is certainly part of the problem. But probably not the major part.

I saw reported elsewhere that they are also closing down their hog farming operations in Arizona and Utah – which made no sense to me, until I remembered that fuel for north and west Arizona, and Utah, is sourced in California. The insane California State fuel taxes don’t apply, but the wholesale price is still much, much higher.

Reply to  writing observer
June 13, 2022 10:05 am

The California law applies to all pork imported into California. It affects producers throughout the US. You’re likely seeing a rebalancing of supply chains as the volume going into California will be reduced.

Reply to  Charles Rotter
June 13, 2022 2:27 pm

AND the prices charged for the products shipped to Cali are increased to pay for the required animal “space”.

When the costs get high enough compared to neighboring states a black market will form.

June 13, 2022 9:15 am

At one time California was on my short list of states I’d like to move to. That was a long time ago. But now I have no interest in living in a third world country.

Reply to  Opus
June 13, 2022 9:52 am

Lived my whole life here in CA (66 years). Leaving this summer.
It’s less the crowding and cost (though the last few years have made that an issue too) than the insane government.

Dave Fair
Reply to  mark
June 13, 2022 11:14 am

Mark, what types of politicians and which political party did you vote for all those years? Leftists and Democrats (the same, effectively)? Do you plan on voting the same way in your new location?

Reply to  Opus
June 13, 2022 5:18 pm

I almost stayed there when I got out of the Corps in ’67’.
I thank my lucky stars that I did not make that mistake.

Doug Huffman
Reply to  Opus
June 14, 2022 4:05 am

I dropped out to enlist USN in 1969 and have been back only to visit. Not so much recently and not again. YOSEMITE Valley – Sic Transit Gloria Mundi

“Awaiting for approval.”. what a travesty.

Last edited 11 months ago by Doug Huffman
Gary Pearse
June 13, 2022 9:39 am

“The UN is predicting an imminent global food crisis, because of disruption caused by Russia’s war with Ukraine”

I predicted a famine, shuttered industry (loss of jobs) and a major hike in dea@ths from cold in EU-UK almost a year ago when they turned down gas contracts with Russia at about $2/MBTU because it had “bad optics” for ‘climate change!! The EU even chastised Hungary and Serbia for signing up for Russian gas at the time.

I did not know, of course, that Russia would go to war with Ukraine. This means, if a geologist/mining engineer knew what the consequences of European doctrinaire stupidity would be, they certainly new they were putting their citizens at great risk. Blaming Russia for their own goal problems is pathetic and hopefully this is recognized by the people put at risk by their uncaring governments.

June 13, 2022 10:55 am
June 13, 2022 2:33 pm

I surely don’t want to eat slaughtered pork that’s been stressed in any way … as in stressed by the supermajority hardcore leftist Democrat legislature and gov.

June 13, 2022 5:37 pm

Smithfield is a Chinese company, and California is too dictatorial for them.

June 14, 2022 1:15 am

I’m no Greenie, but confining a pig to 24 square feet is disgusting and immoral. Imagine spending your life in a cage 6 foot by 4. . . .

Reply to  Tatty
June 14, 2022 2:31 pm

Mother pigs are called sows .They can give birth to between 10 and 16 piglets at on time .
Put them in a large barn with straw on the floor and some or many of the piglets will get rolled on and die .
Put the sow in a farrowing crate for three weeks or more and the piglet deaths are dramatically reduced .
These are the facts that animal rights people ignore .
Farrowing crates save piglets to live their lives to feed the us with bacon ham and pork.
All farmed animals end up in our food chain .That is a fact of life and is why many people go vegan as they cannot stand the thought of killing an animal to eat .

June 14, 2022 8:31 pm

These is beauty of United States system. If a particular state decides to destroy business through bad laws, the businesses will move to other states. I see Caterpillar moving headquarters to Texas from Illinois.

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