It's some time years since the Florida voters passed the amendment to the state's constitution that banned gestation-sow crates. Animal activists cheered, the states' two token pork producers closed their doors, pork producers elsewhere shook their heads and Florida consumers saw little change to their daily lives.
Now, Florida taxpayers will pay an additional price for their decision. Within the Florida House's $63-billion spending bill is $600,000 to assist at least two pork producers who went out of business following the gestation ban. Under the proposed Florida Pork Producers Transition Grant Program the producers would be eligible for state grants of up to $275,000 each if the bill is approved. The rest of the $600,000 is essentially a cushion to pay for other affected producers should they surface.
One of the producers, Henry Mathis of Dade City, sold several thousand hogs and a major portion of his farm after the ban. Upon closing the doors to his business, he said he lost nearly $500,000.
He has said if the $275,000 payment comes through, he may open a small pork packing plant on his remaining property.
The vote was actually close as 55 percent of Florida's voters passed the amendment in November 2002.
Some folks are upset that the pork producers will get any compensation. But such actions should have some consequences, and taxpayers need to think through proposals more thoroughly. Of course, that could be said for any and all initiatives on ballots.