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.
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:
Find out who’s objecting to the King Amendment and why on the next page
Photo credit: Thinkstock
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