The news that the House Committee on Agriculture has approved a version of the Farm Bill with an amendment by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, that could gut states’ rights to protect animals and their citizens is infuriating. But the Farm Bill will go to the House floor for a vote soon, and the Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Legislative Fund will continue working day and night to rid the bill of this outrageous threat to animal protection.
King’s bill is the worst kind of special interest legislation. It’s specifically designed to undermine the authority of states to restrict the sale within their own borders of products of factory farms and battery cages, and it could also negate laws on puppy mills and the sale of dog and cat meat, among other important animal protection measures. King’s bill would also impact hundreds of laws outside of the animal welfare context, which in turn would undermine nearly every state’s ability to protect its citizens.
It’s no coincidence that King hails from a state loaded with industrial agriculture interests. Because his factory farming constituents are not able to compete against farmers who practice good animal stewardship, King is seeking to abolish essentially all state and local agricultural laws so a few industrial factory farming barons can flood other states’ markets with the products of animal cruelty.
King’s measure would also forbid states from regulating the quality and safety of food products imported from other states. There’s much we don’t know about the safety of certain pesticides and other dangerous chemicals, yet King’s bill would force each state to allow virtually any agricultural product, no matter how dangerous, into its market. This threatens the sanctity of the Tenth Amendment, which reserves rights unto the states, and it threatens our rights as citizens to protect ourselves from hazardous and irresponsible agribusiness practices.
It’s become a test. Will industrial-scale agricultural interests persuade enough members of Congress to preempt state regulation of animal cruelty, as a sop to Iowa factory farmers? Or will wiser minds prevail and stop this federal power grab led by King? We’re going with wiser minds, and we need your help.
The irony of the situation is that King, the front man in this shameless snatch-and-run gambit, is a self-described states’ rights champion. He claims to be a constitutional fundamentalist, a man who “listens to voters.” His website even says this: “I am a firm believer in states’ rights, which is why I am a proud member of the Tenth Amendment Caucus, which focuses on restoring the critical balance between the powers of the states and those of the federal government.”
Such lofty words, however, don’t amount to much when King and his factory farming backers dislike what legislatures in other states are doing. So now he’s pressing for heavy-handed government to impose its will from Washington.
It’s not too late for you to lend your voice and your muscle to the fight against this shameless power grab. Please contact your U.S. representatives and senators and ask them to reject the King amendment. And while you’re at it, please encourage them to sustain a provision that Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., successfully included in the committee’s Farm Bill to prohibit the domestic slaughter, trade and import/export of dogs and cats for human consumption, and any other pro-animal amendments that may be offered on the floor.