By Cindy Arnett
Posted Mar 10, 2018 at 6:32 PM
While Congress prepares to debate the farm bill, an amendment is already being drafted that takes federal overreach to a dangerous new level. The measure, H.R. 4879/H.R. 4879/H.R. 3599, is being proposed by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), a man who openly supports the very worst forms of animal abuse and opposes any regulatory oversight whatsoever of our nation’s agricultural practices.
King’s amendment is an open assault on the sovereignty of the states to establish their own laws governing agriculture. It’s also a broadside against American consumers, small family farmers, farm animals, and our natural environment.
Rep. King has written his measure broadly to effectively overturn hundreds of state laws and regulations enacted by state legislatures and voters, thereby striking an unacceptable blow to the Tenth Amendment. King would essentially strip the states of their authority regarding agriculture. They will be forced to embrace the lowest common denominator of agricultural production and undercut the competitiveness of their own producers as they strive to produce for consumers who are increasingly sophisticated and informed on the source of their food and other agricultural products.
The consequences of H.R. 4879/H.R. 3599 would be devastating. For example, it would nullify California laws prohibiting the most egregiously cruel methods of confinement for hens, pigs and veal calves, laws that were passed by an overwhelming majority of California voters. Similarly, H.R. 4879/H.R. 3599 would override state laws and regulations covering such essential issues as farm machinery safety, animal protection, child labor, standards for inspection, food safety, health and safety standards for workers, food pricing, food production, and manufacturing.
Simply put, King’s amendment is another way for some in Congress to protect the interests of corporate agribusiness at the expense of family farmers who embrace sound principles of animal welfare and environmental stewardship. Consumers lose. At a time when they are demanding more information about how their food is produced, H.R. 4879/H.R. 3599 is a giant step backward.
A broad and diverse coalition of more than 80 organizations throughout the U.S. is opposing H.R. 4879/H.R. 3599. They include animal welfare, sustainable agriculture, worker safety, consumer, public health, organic and environmental organizations. As Congress works through the farm bill — one of the largest, most complex and most important pieces of federal legislation that Congress will consider this year — King’s amendment must be stopped. Please join me in opposing H.R. 4879/H.R. 3599 by contacting your U.S. representative and senators and urge them to oppose this dangerous and destructive legislation.
Cindy Arnett is a member of the Illinois Agricultural Advisory Council, Illinois Citizens for Clean Air and Water and Socially Responsible Agricultural Project. She lives in Lewistown.