Last night, during consideration of the 2012 farm bill, the House Agriculture Committee approved an amendment that is intended to overturn every voter-approved animal welfare ballot measure relating to agriculture–Prop 2 in California (banning extreme confinement crates for pigs, veal calves, and laying hens), Prop 6 in California (forbidding the sale of horses for slaughter for human consumption), Prop 204 in Arizona (banning veal and gestation crates), and Amendment 10 in Florida (outlawing gestation crates). The amendment, offered by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, would also nullify six other state bans on gestation crates, horse slaughter bans in a half-dozen other states, and a raft of anti-downer laws and other animal protection laws designed to shield farm animals from abuse and extreme confinement.
Michelle Riley/The HSUS
A dog rescued from a fighting ring.
But while animal welfare laws may be King’s primary intended target, his amendment reaches way beyond that. It also seeks to nullify every state, county, or local law that creates any standard or condition established relating to an agricultural production activity. We’d have no state laws for agricultural facilities relating to worker rights, animal welfare, environmental protection, or public health. It’s hard to overstate how sweeping and far-reaching the King amendment is. It’s the biggest attack on states' rights and the 10th Amendment that I’ve ever seen. It tries to put the federal government in absolute control of all agriculture, and take states and local governments entirely out of the picture in terms of any balance between agriculture and the values we hold dear in society.
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