Here is some good news. I wrote earlier this week about a provision quietly slipped in to the earliest versions of the House Farm Bill—Section 123 of Title I. If adopted, the provision would have nullified a raft of state and local animal protection laws.
Yesterday, we learned that our campaign to excise the provision was successful. The House Agriculture Committee, to its credit, has dumped the provision overboard, and made the announcement late last night. The Committee also discarded a $12 million subsidy for the veal industry that had been in the original Farm bill proposal and that had been included on a straight party-line vote. Below I have pasted HSUS’ news release on the victory.
Thanks for your calls and letters—they made a difference.
Humane Society Applauds House Agriculture Committee for Removing "Great Federal Power Grab" from Farm Bill, and Eliminating Earmark for Veal
WASHINGTON (July 7, 2007)—Late last night, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture released its latest mark-up of the 2007 Farm Bill, and The Humane Society of the United States thanked the committee for removing a little-known but far-reaching provision that had threatened to nullify dozens of animal welfare and food safety laws enacted through democratic decision-making at the state and local level, as well as removing a $12 million subsidy for the veal industry.
Section 123 of Title I of the Farm Bill — included in an earlier draft by the Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry but removed from the version released last night — had specified that "no State or locality shall make any law prohibiting the use in commerce of an article that the Secretary of Agriculture has (1) inspected and passed; or (2) determined to be of non-regulated status."
The HSUS had advocated for the removal of this provision, and was joined by a wide array of consumer groups and environmental and farming organizations, including the National Association of Counties, National Conference of State Legislatures, Consumers Union, Environmental Defense, Rice Growers of California, and American Corn Growers Association.
"We are grateful to Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson and Livestock Subcommittee Chairman Leonard Boswell for removing Section 123 from the Farm Bill," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. "This provision was an overreach and we are glad the committee pulled the provision. We look forward to working with the committee on other provisions to construct a Farm Bill that includes animal welfare provisions supported by the American people."
If passed, Section 123 could have stricken numerous state and local lawsâranging from prohibitions against horse slaughter to bans on the cruel treatment of farm animals. Because the wording of the section would have prohibited state laws on any article that the Secretary of Agriculture has "inspected and passed," The HSUS feared it was so broad that it could have been used to threaten animal welfare laws that do not even relate to food production, such as restricting abusive puppy mills and the ownership of dangerous exotic pets.
In addition to Section 123, another provision removed from the new version of the Farm Bill was a $12 million subsidy for the U.S. veal industry. This earmark had been previously offered as an amendment by Rep. Steve Kagen (D-Wisc.) and approved by a subcommittee vote of 8 to 6. Veal consumption has been on the decline primarily because Americans view the practice of keeping young calves in small crates as inhumane, and last year Arizona became the first state to ban veal crates. The HSUS had advocated for the removal of this earmark and expressed its thanks to the committee for declining to reimburse this industry for previous losses.
The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s largest animal protection organization — backed by 10 million Americans, or one of every 30. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting crueltyâon the web at humanesociety.org.