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Strong Lobby to Remove California Egg Measure from Farm Bill

12 August 2013

US - The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and House Members have been urging Congress to throw out a state’s rights amendment offered by Rep. Steve King (Republican-Iowa), in the 2013 farm bill.

The US Natonal Chicken Council (NCC) reports that the King amendment, also known as the Protect Interstate Commerce Act amendment, would prevent states from enacting laws that place conditions on how agricultural goods are raised or grown within the state’s borders for sale in other states. It would put pressure on standing laws in California, for example, which require that all egg-laying hens be housed in larger cages by 2015.

The amendment has already seen significant debate during House markup of the farm bill, though it passed on a voice vote. There is no similar measure in the Senate version of the legislation. Formal House-Senate negotiations to reconcile differences in the farm bill are expected to begin in September.

More than one-third of House members are joining HSUS in urging congressional negotiators to keep out of a new farm bill a measure. Some 151 Democrats and 16 Republicans signed letters warning the measure could upset a wide range of state laws.

Democratic Reps. Kurt Schrader of Oregon and Gary Peters of Michigan, who gathered the Democratic signatures for a letter, say the measure “represents an extraordinary attack on states’ rights,” according to the NCC, citing a report in Los Angeles Times.

In an op-ed for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Rep. King explained that laws such as California’s create new federal animal welfare standards by imposing an unconstitutional trade barrier.

“If this law is allowed to stand, there is nothing preventing other states from imposing similar standards, which could further restrict producers in other states,” Rep. King said.

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