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Votes Assails State Laws on Food Safety

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Politics and Democracy page and our Food Safety Resource Center page.

Washington -- A California voter-approved law requiring that hens have cages large enough to let them spread their wings has drawn a national backlash from other livestock producers that threatens not only the state's humane treatment of hens, but also its new ban on foie gras.

The latest salvo came in a midnight vote in the House Agriculture Committee on an amendment to deny states the ability to regulate any farm product, potentially overturning not just California's farm laws but animal welfare, food safety and environmental laws related to any farm product in all 50 states.

"To say members of Congress belittled California is an understatement," said Scott Faber, head of federal affairs for Environmental Working Group, which supports farm conservation. "This isn't just an assault on the ability of states to set standards for agriculture. It's an assault on the Constitution. It is a breathtaking effort to limit the ability of states to set standards for how food is produced in America."

The amendment by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, was passed late Wednesday along with the new five-year farm bill during a marathon committee debate. Strong contingent

Faber said the amendment would block California's ban on the sale and production of foie gras, a liver delicacy made by force-feeding ducks and geese, at least on foie gras produced outside the state. The ban took effect July 1.

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