The high cost of animal rights — why pork prices may shoot up 60%

by Vivian Diep in April 15th, 2022

Global minimum tax: deal or no deal?

Tue Apr 5

It’s no secret that some multinational corporations report all income in Switzerland or the Cayman Islands to avoid domestic taxes. Countries like Ireland have even lured in businesses with their relatively low tax rates. That’s why in 2021, the world’s most powerful nations backed a 15% global tax minimum — which would capture ~$150 billion in global tax revenue currently missed annually.

But now, the proposal is facing a block from Poland.

  • First, Poland believes the current structure will not adequately force tech giants to pay taxes, which was the major appeal of the deal from the get-go. The country is asking for the two main pillars to be legally connected but officials assert that Poland’s request is impossible to carry out as one pillar is an international treaty while another is an E.U. directive.
  • And there seems to be continued friction between the E.U. and Poland, which some are saying is the reason for Poland’s opposition. For example, Poland has been implementing laws that goes against the E.U.'s, such as curbing the rights of trans women and LIGBTQ people, resulting in court battles and the E.U. withholding funding.

As a result, a radical deal that has taken years to get the necessary unanimous approval risks coming to an end. Beyond Poland’s veto, the minimum tax deal is fraught with roadblocks individual to each country as well, such as the U.S. who would need to update its tax code. The U.S. is, in fact, struggling so hard to get tax plans through Congress that it may become another major roadblock to the deal. Between the U.S. and Poland, some are concerned the whole deal is in jeopardy.

Pork producers challenge welfare law that requires space for pigs to move

Tue Mar 29

Is a pig’s quality of life worth paying extra for pork products? It’s a question at the core of today’s story, which starts in 2018 when California voted on a bill enforcing more space for farm animals. Proposition 12 specifically increases space requirements in pig crates from 14 square feet to 24, giving them enough room to turn around and extend their limbs. For the farmers, this translates to paying 15% more per pig, and was supposed to be enforced by January 2022.

Instead, the law is delayed until July. Why? Unlike others of its kind, California’s law also prohibits the sale of products from any out-of-state source that does not comply with these welfare rules. Instead of investing in solutions to comply, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) has been spending their money these past three years suing the state of California on the basis that the law:

  • Violates the “dormant Commerce Clause” of the Constitution that bars states from enacting laws that discriminate against out-of-state business.
  • Will cost farmers millions of dollars and potentially drive smaller hog farmers out of business just to cater to the state's “ethical preferences.”
  • Pushes requirements that are not based on peer-reviewed, published scientific literature regarding worker, environment, or human safety concerns.
  • Shoots up pork prices 60% in absence of local California farms that can meet demand.

While efforts have historically failed, the Supreme Court recently agreed to re-hear the industry’s argument that California’s law puts an unfair burden on out-of-state farmers. Some question why the court made this decision, especially given the Supreme Court’s history of favoring California — including one Republican-appointed justice expressing skepticism that the aforementioned “dormant Commerce Clause” even exists.

Meanwhile, growing public concern for animal treatment previously influenced many companies to pledge to the banning of gestation crates altogether by sometime this year. Though so far, only Whole Foods, Hormel, Noodles & Company, and Shake Shack have achieved the goal.

Below the Fold Bytes

Pesticides Hit Children’s Books

From music to food, we like and trust what is familiar — especially when taught early in childhood. That may be why one of the most powerful farm lobbying groups in the U.S. has released storybooks for children that extols the benefits of pesticides and reassures readers of the expertise of pesticide makers. As we continue to learn about the harmful effects of pesticides, from known testing problems to proof that pesticides kill bees and endangered species to claims of cancer in exposed farmers, the farm lobby has decided to target children to help its worsening public image The same group also represents some of the top polluters of U.S. freshwater and emitters of greenhouse gases. >> Read More

You Are What You Watch

What happens when Fox News devotees (mostly white, staunchly conservative, older males) are offered $15 for each hour of CNN primetime watched? In short, you get the same conservative folks with a broader perspective, most even recognizing that Fox News omits Trump’s mistakes (although they remain Trump supporters). While none of the participants became regular CNN viewers, the study offers hope and a warning: We can become a less divided, more understanding country if our media diets change — but what happens if the media won’t inform us of all our politicians’ actions both good and bad? How do we hold politicians accountable if the news won’t report on actions good or bad? >> Read More

🎬 Action of the Week

We were truly saddened to hear that after nearly seven years publishing some of the most provocative and memorable food stories in journalism, The Counter is shutting down next month. The Counter has been a regular source of research for our team (including this week!) on important subjects plaguing our food systems and policies.

We wanted to use this space to thank their team for all they have helped Below the Fold learn over the past few years, and ask you all to continue to follow (and if in the position to, hire!) journalists from The Counter as they search for their next adventure.


ASCII-ing About the News

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Proper space for us to walk is kind of a pig deal.

Art Credit: Nabis

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