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Organic Consumers Association

King Amendment to Farm Bill Could Be End to Humane Farming Standards

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's CAFO's vs. Free Range page, Politics and Democracy page and our Iowa News page.

A proposed amendment to the $1 trillion federal farm bill is of concern to both states' rights and humane farming advocates as Congress looks to finalize the bill passed in the House earlier this year.

The Protect Interstate Commerce Act, introduced by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), would amend the farm bill by limiting states' power to supervise their own farming standards. Under the legislation, states would be banned from enacting farm product regulations stricter than what other states mandate.

The bill would overturn several state laws, namely California's Proposition 2, a farming standards statute passed in 2008 requiring that calves raised for veal, egg-laying hens and pregnant pigs have enough room in their quarters to lie down, stand up, fully extend their limbs or wings and turn around freely. Two years later, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law a requirement that all eggs sold in California be produced under Prop 2's standards. Such a law, he said, was necessary to protect California's egg farmers from out-of-state egg producers taking advantage of Californians' compassion for livestock.

That egg law now sits at the center of King's fight to pass his amendment.

"This restriction places an incredible burden on farmers across the nation to spend up to as much as $40 per hen to completely restructure entire farming operations," King wrote in a 2012 newsletter. "Regardless of how they're produced, eggs are already regulated by the Federal Egg Inspection Act, which ensures all eggs entering interstate commerce are safe for the consumer."

King's home state of Iowa happens to be the nation's largest producer of eggs by a longshot, producing even twice as many as second-largest producer Pennsylvania.     


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