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45 Unexpected Ways the King Amendment Will Hurt Us All

45 Unexpected Ways the King Amendment Will Hurt Us All
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If police officers, firefighters, farm workers, organic consumer groups, animal welfare advocates, state governments, almost 200 bipartisan members of Congress and a host of other organizations rose up in unison to oppose one thing, you’d sit up and take notice, right?

Then take notice, America. That’s exactly what’s going on right now as Congress returns from recess to take up the Farm Bill.

An amazing and diverse array of organizations and individuals are voicing strong opposition to a hugely dangerous provision in the Farm Bill known as the King Amendment.

While much of the opposition has focused on the ghastly impact this provision would have on animal welfare, that’s not the only problem here — not by a long shot.

What is the King Amendment?

In a nutshell, the King Amendment would prevent states from applying their own regulatory agricultural standards to agricultural products made or produced in other states. For example, the California ban on eggs from battery-caged chickens would not apply to eggs brought in from, say, Iowa. Iowa’s eggs could be freely (and more cheaply) sold in California, neatly sidestepping California’s rules and putting California egg producers at an economic disadvantage in their own state.

Indeed, it was the passing of California’s Proposition 2, which banned the sale of eggs from inhumanely caged chickens, that prompted Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) to propose this amendment to the Farm Bill in the first place. His proposed amendment to the Farm Bill would say:

“[T]he government of a State or locality therein shall not impose a standard or condition on the production or manufacture of any agricultural product sold or offered for sale in interstate commerce if (1) such production or manufacture occurs in another State; and (2) the standard or condition is in addition to the standards and conditions applicable to such production or manufacture pursuant to (A) Federal law; and (B) the laws of the State and locality in which such production or manufacture occurs.”

To comprehend the far reaching impact of these words, it’s important to understand the definition of “agricultural products.” They include:

“agricultural, horticultural, viticultural, and dairy products, livestock and poultry, bees, forest products, fish and shellfish, and any products thereof, including processed and manufactured products, and any and all products raised or produced on farms and any processed or manufactured product thereof.”

Now stop and consider the ramifications. If the King Amendment becomes law, says Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, it will obliterate “every state, county or local law that creates any standard or condition relating to an agricultural production activity — so we’d have no state laws for agricultural facilities relating to worker rights, animal welfare, environmental protection or public health.” Pacelle is, by far, not the only one with this view.

That’s right. State, county and local laws that have anything to do with “agricultural production” — enacted in many cases because you voted for them wouldn’t be worth the paper they’re printed on anymore.

45 Reasons (and Counting) Why You Need to Care

You say you’re not a farmer, so why should you care?

Take a look at this list of 45 or so state agricultural-related laws. Are any of these things important to you? The King Amendment would allow other states’ products, produced under more lenient rules, to be sold in your state, overriding your own state laws regarding:

  • Use of dangerous pesticides on crops (California);
  • Arsenic in poultry feed (Maryland);
  • Rules on raw milk, milk fat and milk solids (Iowa);
  • Standards pertaining to alcohol production, such as those concerning:
    • Additives,
    • Container sterilization,
    • Age limits for alcohol manufacturers’ employees;
  • Tobacco laws, including laws requiring cigarettes to meet fire safety standards;
  • Labeling of:
    • Farm-raised fish (Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Washington),
    • Artificial sweeteners (Iowa),
    • Maple syrup (New Hampshire);
  • Alcohol, distiller’s grains and other products (South Dakota);
  • Rules on firewood transported into the state in order to protect against invasive pests and damage to local forests (Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Wisconsin);
  • Shipment of Christmas trees (California, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Virginia);
  • Labeling requirements and germination standards for seeds (New York, Georgia, Iowa, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Minnesota, Ohio, Rhode Island);
  • Listing of chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm, and notification of significant amounts of chemicals in products (California, Vermont);
  • State pollution standards, such as:
    • Bans on spraying sewage on crops directly before they are fed to people,
    • Requirements for lagoon siting, wastewater discharge and use of licensed sludge applicators (Minnesota);
  • Agricultural employment, including:
    • Child labor laws,
    • Standards for inspections and certifications,
    • Health and safety standards for agricultural employees involving use of dangerous farm machinery, field sanitation, exposure to pesticides, respiratory hazards, heat-illness and hearing loss prevention (Washington);
  • Animal welfare laws restricting practices:
    • Intensive confinement of animals on larg farms, such as:
      • Chicken battery cages (California, Michigan),
      • Veal crates (Arizona, California, Colorado, Maine, Michigan, Ohio, Rhode Island),
      • Pig gestation crates (Ohio, Florida, Rhode Island, Colorado, Maine, Michigan, Oregon, Arizona, California);
    • Puppy mills (Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Oregon, Washington),
    • Tail docking of cows (California, Ohio, Rhode Island),
    • Horse slaughter (California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, Texas),
    • Killing sharks for their fins (Hawaii, Oregon, Illinois, California, Washington),
    • Selling dog, cat and horse meat (California)


Find out who’s objecting to the King Amendment and why on the next page

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Photo credit: Thinkstock

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8:02PM PDT on Oct 30, 2013

Ashamed to be an American lately when I read this pooh.

7:55AM PDT on Oct 29, 2013

this can't pass!

7:26PM PDT on Oct 2, 2013

Rep King is a wholly owned subsidiary of Monsanto.

3:10AM PDT on Sep 21, 2013

The more I hear about this so called "King" idiot, the worse he gets. Why are so many right wing US politicians complete morons ?

2:57AM PDT on Sep 15, 2013

I almost didn't read this not understanding what "king".
So now the US is a monarchy with multiple kings ruling! All of them animal abusers, earth destroyers and above all intent on poisoning Humans!

2:54AM PDT on Sep 15, 2013

Thank you Amy for the link!

5:53AM PDT on Sep 13, 2013

What do you expect from the guy who said of the children of illegals raised here "for every one who's a valedictorian, there's 100 who weigh 130 lbs and they've got calves the size of cantaloupes from hauling 75 lbs of marijuana across the desert." Can't we just use those cruise missiles that were intended for Damascus on his district? The country would be a better place if his constituents were dead.

Petersen, I can understand. I mean, it must be tiring. "After being lobbied by all these egg people, and with every other damned thing going on" he wanted to tell all these states to cut the crap and take their "rights" and shove them. I mean, how dare California put Petersen in the position where he has to listen to an endless parade of people droning on about eggs? The checks they write are great, but all the money on Wall Street couldn't make those egg people interesting, though they grow on you, a little, when they're droning on in Hawaii in January.

12:50PM PDT on Sep 11, 2013


12:34PM PDT on Sep 11, 2013

Another wrong-headed amendment that
needs voted down.

12:01PM PDT on Sep 11, 2013


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