Cage-fight: Rep scrambles to stop California from imposing its egg laws on other states
Should California tell farmers throughout the country how to run their farms? Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, says no.
“It’s exactly what our founding fathers wanted to avoid,” King said.
But the rural-state lawmaker is concerned over California’s strict laws on egg producers and other farmers as a result of Proposition 2, a ballot initiative passed by voters in 2008. The law requires egg producers to increase their cage size to more than 200 square inches, more than triple the industry recommendation. As a result, farmers from other states must comply with California hen cage standards if they wish to sell their product in the Golden State.
If they don’t comply, they can’t do business there. But not if King has his way. He’s proposed an amendment to the pending farm bill in Congress which would allow farmers in other states to sell eggs in California without having to comply with the state’s law.
“After a while, you end up with a patchwork quilt of 50 states with different regulations and it’s impossible to comply with them,” King said. If his measure doesn’t pass, he worries that more states could try to dictate farm policy to the rest of the country.
It’s a fight that has made for some strange bedfellows. The United Egg Producers is joining forces with the U.S. Humane Society to fight King’s amendment, marking a rare occasion when farmers are partnering with a prominent animal rights group. But California ranchers say King’s amendment is a competition-killer which will put them out of business by allowing farmers in states like Iowa and Indiana to produce eggs at a much lower cost.
“There’s no reason for anybody to produce an egg in this state when it can be produced in another state for half the cost,” said Eddie Voortman, a third-generation egg rancher in Ontario, Calif.
At Voortman’s Egg Ranch, they’re gearing up to change their chicken cages to comply with California law, which takes effect in 2015. That will take money. And it will leave them with fewer hens.
“We’re gonna have to open up the cages quite a bit, give them a lot more room to spread around,” Voortman said, overlooking his farm’s 50,000 hens. “That’s kinda where we’re at a disadvantage right now. Other states aren’t gonna have to comply with that.”
King said he feels for California farmers who say they will suffer from his amendment, but believes the solution is to change the law in California.
“It was a mistake for California to do what it did,” King said.
“I’m sorry that that’s the case.
But we can’t impose that mistake on the rest of America.”
While the Humane Society is typically no friend of farmers, now they are working hand in hand with the egg lobby to pass a different bill, one which would standardize the size of hen cages nationwide. It’s a concession for egg producers who believe a national standard could pre-empt one state from telling another how to raise its farm animals.
But for farmers like Eddie Voortman, it could save a business that’s been in the family since 1951.
>>> PD: YES it was a big mistake that the eggie producers did not prepare for nor handle correctly, and HSUS filed at least 5 law suits, the eggie money was tied up and couldn’t be used to oppose HSUS law, etc etc. Too little, too late. BUT this is an example of people finally standing up to HSUS legislation that STARTS in California and then spreads like cancer across the USA. Obviously the egg producers in CA made a HUGE mistake in even allowing HSUS to get Prop 2 on the ballot. Following that large error, AG groups have now been joining forces. The AG groups have far more $$ than HSUS has, and when HSUS gets a big enough black eye—– the AG side should win. Too bad the AG group didn’t start joining forces earlier— they could have prevented much of what has happened.
See related article on PICA:
Amidst the late-night wrangling that took place during the House Agriculture Committee’s final vote on its version of the 2012 Farm Bill, was an amendment presented by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, regarding interstate commerce and farm-animal housing standards. It is called the Protect Interstate Commerce Act (PICA), which the committee voted to adopt and add to H.R. 6083– the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act of 2012.
The amendment prohibits state or local governments from “imposing a standard or condition on the production or manufacture of any agricultural product sold or offered for sale in interstate commerce” if the production occurs in another state and follows federal law.
This would address such things as state referendums and legislation that set specific animal housing, rearing or labelling standards related to food-animal production. One such example would be California’s Proposition 2. King pointed out that “by 2014 California will require only ‘free-range’ eggs be sold (in the state) and the impact of their large market would compel producers in every other state to invest billions to meet the California standard of ‘means of production’.” Among the committee members supporting King’s amendment were Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla. Supporters argued that the point was to stop states setting such standards in the first place.
“You can’t regulate interstate commerce by passing laws like you did in California to regulate egg production,” said Goodlatte. Rep, Collin Peterson, D-Minn., added that such state laws essentially hold farmers in the rest of the country captive. “I am pleased that the committee passed my amendment, PICA because states are entering into trade protectionism by requiring cost-prohibitive production methods in other states,” said King. “PICA blocks states from requiring ‘free-range’ eggs or ‘free-range’ pork but covers all agriculture products listed in section 206 of the Agriculture Marketing Act of 1946.”
He added, “PICA will ensure that radical organizations like the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals are prohibited from establishing a patchwork of restrictive state laws aimed at slowly suffocating production agriculture out of existence.”
Not surprising, HSUS had a different reaction to the PICA inclusion, calling it a “radical federal overreach” that attempts to rob the states of their historic police power to legislate for the health, safety, and welfare of their citizens. HSUS said the action would “void dozens of duly enacted state laws, state citizen ballot initiatives, state constitutional provisions, and key state health and safety regulations across the country.” – See more at: http://www.porknetwork.com/pork-news/House-farm-bill-addresses-animal-housing-laws-162401036.html#sthash.VnMoricd.dpuf
PD note: HSUS is a non profit yet most of their time is spent on lobbying and drafting laws.
The California animal laws we have were mostly the work of HSUS/cronies. HSUS wants to run the Food and AG so they can force veganism and set all animals free, but we are not against veganism, we are just against people who try and force their own beliefs down our throats and then try and outlaw the sales of legal items. Such as animals.
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