The Farm Bill passed Wednesday night by the House Ag Committee includes the “Protect Interstate Commerce Act”, which would bar states from imposing their own animal-welfare standards on eggs, meat and other ag products brought in from other states.
The amendment is aimed at preventing farmers in other states from having to comply with measures such as California’s Prop 2 initiative that requires farms to provide more space to hens, hogs and other livestock.
The amendment was introduced by Iowa Representative Steve King.
“I’m fine if California wants to say ‘if you’re going to bring an egg in here, it has to be egg-shaped—and if you want to bring some beef in here, it needs to be produced with the idea of the regulations of the USDA in mind’,” King said. “But I’m not fine if California—and it isn’t just California, it’s other states–it’s a patchwork quilt of these issues and we need to draw the line now while we still can.”
California Representative Jim Costa objected to the amendment.
“Congress does not have the authority to regulate interstate commerce in a way that strips states—I believe—of their sovereign state authority,” Costa said. “In effect, it’s a federal takeover of a long-standing state’s internal legislative authority.”
The president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, Wayne Pacelle, warns that the King amendment could essentially “nullify” California’s Prop 2 and all state and local laws designed to protect farm animals.