Alert: Help us stop the Farm Bill and the outrageous King Amendment

By on May 17, 2018 with 12 Comments

Imagine a country where states are forced to legalize dog, cat and horse meat. Where states could no longer set anti-cruelty and public health standards for meat and eggs sold to their residents. Where laws preventing puppy mill abuse and the trade in shark fins are wiped away. That nightmarish scenario could soon become a reality.

Scheduled for a vote this week, the House version of the Farm Bill contains an amendment Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, got adopted in committee. The amendment could eliminate hundreds, if not thousands, of state and local laws protecting animals, children, workers, consumers and the environment. (Yes, it’s the same Rep. Steve King who made national headlines defending dog fighting.)

King’s primary goal is to undermine our historic California egg law that requires that shell eggs sold in the state come from hens who are not cruelly confined. But the King Amendment goes beyond California and could effectively strip all states of their right to regulate any agricultural products sold within their own borders, forcing a lowest-common-denominator approach: if any one state allows a particular production practice, all other states could be forced to allow it too, no matter how unsafe or immoral it is.

To show you how sweeping the King Amendment is, here are just a few examples of laws on a range of topics that would be jeopardized if it were enacted:

  • Prohibition on sale of horse meat for human consumption (Illinois)
  • Prohibition on sale, distribution, and import of noxious or invasive plant species (Vermont)
  • Prohibition on selling dangerous pesticides unless the label bears a skull and crossbones and the word “poison” and a statement of an antidote for the pesticide (South Dakota)
  • Requirements for sale of raw milk (Arkansas)
  • Ban on certain plant products that contain opioid properties (Alabama)
  • Prohibition on the confinement of farm animals in a manner that does not allow them to turn around freely, lie down, stand up and fully extend their limbs, and prohibition on the sale of those products (Massachusetts)
  • Law making it a misdemeanor to knowingly sell or offer for sale any food product represented as kosher when the person knows that the product is not kosher (Washington)
  • Environmental performance standards for agricultural operations (Wisconsin)
  • Mandatory labeling requirements for genetically-engineered food, seed or seed stock (Connecticut)
  • Limits on child labor among seasonal farm workers (Pennsylvania)
  • Ban on the production and sale of infant food containers and baby food jars that include BPA (Vermont)

The King Amendment could also hurt the agriculture industry itself. New Mexico chili peppers, Florida citrus fruits and Tennessee whiskey are just a few of the flagship industries currently protected by state law from false and misleading labels.

Additionally, the House of Representatives will be voting on two amendments to the Farm Bill that have positive impacts on animal welfare. The first is Amendment #28 submitted by Reps. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., John Faso, R-N.Y. and Steve Knight, R-Calif. Mirroring the Parity in Animal Cruelty Enforcement (PACE) Act, H.R. 4202, it amends the Animal Welfare Act to clarify that federal prohibitions against dogfighting and cockfighting activity that affect interstate or foreign commerce apply to all U.S. jurisdictions, including U.S. territories. Ambiguities in current federal law create doubt about the enforceability of these prohibitions in the U.S. territories. The amendment will protect animals from vicious cruelty, protect communities from related criminal activity such as drug trafficking and gangs, strengthen enforcement of federal animal fighting law across the United States, and protect public health and the food supply from disease transmission such as an outbreak of exotic Newcastle disease in California in 2002-2003 that cost taxpayers nearly $200 million to eradicate, and human fatalities in Asia from bird flu reportedly linked to cockfighting exposure.

Last June, a Remington Research poll of 1,000 registered voters in Puerto Rico revealed that citizens support a ban on cockfighting by a two-to-one margin among those with a position on the question. Dogfighting is already a felony in Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Strengthening federal law against animal fighting is an issue that has consistently garnered huge bipartisan support, with Congress enacting animal fighting provisions in each of the last three Farm Bills and free-standing legislation in 2007.

The second pro-animal welfare amendment is #24 introduced by Reps. Dave Brat, R-Va., Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., and Dina Titus, D-Nev. and it addresses commodity checkoff programs. These programs were established to allow agricultural producers to pool money for common promotional purposes. The mandatory checkoff fees go to federal, industry-specific boards, which are required by law to use the funds for mutually beneficial marketing campaigns and research, and are prohibited from using the funds for lobbying.

Unfortunately, checkoff programs’ activity has come to exceed the scope of their statutory mandates. Lax USDA oversight has resulted in collusive illegal relationships between checkoff boards and lobbying organizations, both of which use checkoff funds to lobby against family farmers who value traditional husbandry practices, and to advocate against animal welfare initiatives. This amendment based on the Opportunities for Fairness in Farming (OFF) Act, H.R. 1753, will establish transparency and accountability requirements for checkoff programs and prohibit a checkoff board and its employees and agents acting in their official capacity from engaging in any act that involves a conflict of interest, anti-competitive activity, or unfair or deceptive act or practice toward other agricultural products. Those supporting the amendment include the National Farmers Union, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, R Street, Organization for Competitive Markets, Family Farm Action and National Dairy Producers Organization.

If you agree with me that animals, as well as children, consumers, and the environment, deserve our protection, please call your representative and urge him or her to vote YES on Amendments #24 and #28 regarding checkoff and animal fighting, but vote NO on final passage of the House Farm Bill because it contains the outrageous King amendment. Please also let your senators know that you oppose Rep. Steve King’s amendment to the House Farm Bill and want them to do all they can to keep it out of any final package. Take action here.

Companion Animals, Equine, Farm Animals, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative)

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  1. J Trapani says:

    According to my representative the number of the bill is HR 2. The staff said it has a low number because it is a high-priority bill. The staff also said it may be voted upon tomorrow so time is of the essence. CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE IMMEDIATELY.

  2. Timothy Gonsorek says:

    Please OPPOSE Rep. Steve Kong’s ammendments. Thank you sincerely

    • Sharon Feldberg says:

      Why does this man have zero compassion for animals? Every year he tries to make them suffer more. Happy I’m vegan and the world is slowly changing

  3. Angela says:

    This is terrible, it’s bad enough the things that happen to our innocent, animals now that aren’t caught. I mean there’s a lot of area to cover, it’s not possible to catch all abuse, neglect and the down right evilness.

    Yes, please we all need to contact our representatives, tell them how we feel about what is trying to be done. This just can’t happen, I am appalled that there are people, never mind in the house, that want to do this. You’d think they would be more sophisticated, more appt not to want to pass eating dog, cat and horse meat, not wanting cock and dog fighting, but instead wanting all people and animals to be safe. This is outrageous.

    We can’t let them change the status quo, we can’t go backwards. We need to actually fight for more regulations and harsh punishment for those who choose to hurt animals and the environment.

  4. Sherry says:

    Omg, are they serious about eating dogs, cats, and horses? What are they thinking of better yet are they even listening to what’s being said, have the time you see these people in session they’re half asleep, wake up reps listen to the people are saying.

  5. Francine S. says:

    All animals deserve our respect and protection…not just human animals!!

  6. Francine S. says:

    All animals deserve our respect and protection…not just human animals!! Stop the King amendment bill NOW!!!

  7. Mary Ann Hembree says:

    We must try to protect our animals, not abuse them or just kill them for sport. Please stop the King Amendment Bill ASAP.

  8. Nichole says:

    Please vote this bill down and protect our animals!

  9. Tim says:

    Animals need our help. Go vegetarian or vegan! Strike down this despicable.

  10. Donna Barney says:

    The King Amendment is incl in H.R. 2 The House Farm Bill 2018. The Public Hearing on The Farm Bill 2018 in Sept. 5th, 2018 9:30 am in D.C. Please go to my fb page Donna Barney Animal Advocate. Go to Events. Choose 8/31-Sept. 5th it has the complete list of the 68 Members of The Farm Bill Conference Committee and their verified web portals to Contact the Legislators asking to Remove The King Amendment (PICA Protect Interstate Commerce Act) Calling til 5 pm est use the list Legislators Switchboard # (202) 224-3121. Please take action now! This Amendment effects all areas of Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry. It negates all State Laws in rights, protections and standards that are not covered by Federal Law. Please keeping going, we have a chance! Please Invite Friends to the Event it also incl. the amendment and links to The Senate’s Farm Bill and The House’s Farm Bill. Share. E-mail, Instagram, Tweet, Etc. Thank you.

  11. George says:

    This farm bill thing is so confuse, Farming, crops, seeds, land, frutes, an education on how work our land is what we need, what chickens fights has to do with farming? you want to protect? build shelters for dogs and cats let the nature be, some animals can’t be pets, their nature is what they are and what they do, this farm bill is a joke.., you want to help, make seeds and land more affordable and educate people how grow their food…

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