Rep. Steve King, R Iowa, has once again shown his true colors — and his servitude to corporate agriculture interests — by introducing the Protect Interstate Commerce Act, H.R. 4879, which is set to dismantle state and local agricultural laws and will threaten public health and safety, as well as weakening states’ abilities to govern.
The implications of this legislation are massive. H.R. 4879 could wipe out the ability of any U.S. state or local government to regulate its own food and farming practices by taking a lowest-common denominator approach. The lowest legal standards on the production or manufacture of a product would control all states — no matter the ill effects on health, the environment, the welfare of the animals raised, or the well-being of local communities. Hundreds of state laws already on the books that protect animals, regulate pollution from industrial agriculture operations, and ensure food safety for consumers could be nullified. Further, no state could enforce its laws without first consulting statutes of all of the other states and the federal government — an impossible task when considering how frequently laws change.
Recently, the U.S. House Agriculture Committee voted to add this egregious legislation to the 2018 Farm Bill, bringing this assault one step closer to becoming law. The House Agriculture Committee members who voted for this legislation’s inclusion have been hoodwinked by King and “Big Ag,” and should be standing up for the rights of those they are supposed to serve, rather than jumping on the bandwagon.
Ever-increasing numbers of consumers want to know how their food is raised, whether the animals were treated humanely, if antibiotics were used, and whether the agricultural operations that raised their food are positively or negatively impacting the environment. Consumers care about the impact that their food purchases have on the health of their families and on environmental and animal welfare. Representative King is aware of this. That’s why he has introduced legislation that will protect the corporate interests he serves from laws that address those concerns of consumers.
Between 2004 and 2008, cage-free egg sales increased by 125 percent in the U.S. Likewise, Organic Trade Association’s (OTA’s) 2017 Organic Industry Survey showed organic food sales continue to climb, totaling around $47 billion in 2016 — an increase of almost $3.7 billion from the previous year. These increases are only two of many such statistics that tell the story of changing consumption habits throughout our nation. Results from a 2015 Neilsen poll show consumers no longer trust the health claims that industrial agriculture and big food corporations make about their products. They demand a choice and a voice so they can make informed food purchases. But Rep. King wants to take their choice and voice away from them.
King’s Protect Interstate Commerce Act, should it be included in the finalized Farm Bill and become law, will undermine the authority of states to protect family farmers, local communities, animals, public health and food safety. It will likely lead to scores of lawsuits and will further solidify voter mistrust of representatives like Steve King. Will our legislative leaders — and President Trump — go along with keeping the King Amendment in the 2018 Farm Bill?
The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. The full House of Representatives is expected to take up the Farm Bill in early May. The Senate Agriculture Committee will be working on their own version of the Farm Bill, and we hope that they reject any effort to include a provision like the Rep. King’s legislation in the bill that they put forward for a vote by their colleagues in the Senate.
These steps will show whether our legislators can be trusted to act in the best interests of its constituents — individual citizens and local communities who voted them into office and whom they are called upon to serve — or whether they will side on behalf of corporate agribusinesses, to the detriment of our families, our communities, and our world.
To learn more and take action, visit humanesociety.org/stopking.
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