Update July 16, 2013:On July 11, 2013 by a vote of 216-208, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the King amendment as part of H.R. 2642, the Federal Agricultural Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013, now the Farm bill. Section 11312 contains the King amendment. The bill now goes to the Senate. For more on what this amendment means, read Animal Law Coalition’s report below.
Original report: An amendment by U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) to the House Agriculture Committee version of the FARRM bill would threaten the ability of state and local governments to regulate animal welfare within their borders. Congressman King’s amendment provides “one state cannot deny the trade of an agricultural product from another state based on that product’s means of production.”
The King amendment was approved as part of the House Agriculture Committee’s version of the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (FARRM) of 2013, H.R. 1947, on May 15, 2013 by a vote of 36-10.
King’s amendment would target, for example, the 2010 California law that prohibits sale of eggs in the state that are from hens kept in conditions inconsistent with Cal Health & Saf Code Sec. 25990. That law, known as California’s anti-confinement law for farm animals, requires that “for all or the majority of any day”, egg laying hens must be able to lay down, stand up and fully extend their limbs or wings without touching the sides of an enclosure or other hens, and also turn around freely. See further Cal Health & Saf Code Section 25991.
Under Congressman King’s amendment this California law could not be applied to foreign egg producers that want to sell eggs in the state. Other jurisdictions could sell eggs from hens cruelly crammed into battery cages and likely undercut the prices of local egg producers that must meet state humane standards.
Mr. King’s amendment would wreak havoc with efforts of local citizens to stop animal cruelty and threaten protections not only for egg laying hens and other farm animals, but also laws that prohibit or regulate puppy and cat mills and other animal breeders, ban horse slaughter and protect wildlife. The King amendment would threaten state and local standards for food safety, environmental protection and worker safety. Rep. King would force every state and locale to open its markets to those producers with the worst standards. Don’t let Congressman King undermine state’s rights and turn the clock back centuries on standards for animal welfare, the environment, and food and worker safety.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Find your U.S. Senators here. Contact them (letters or calls are best) and urge your senators to offer or support an amendment to repeal the King amendment and to vote NO to H.R. 2642, the 2013 FARRM bill unless the King amendment is removed.