As the 600-plus page farm bill continues to be debated by lawmakers in Washington, animal rights groups are speaking out against one of its many amendments.
Rep. Steve King (R-IA) introduced an amendment that forbids local and state governments from imposing their own standards on the production of agricultural products sold across state lines.
The amendment to the House-passed bill reads:
“…the government of a State or locality therein shall not impose a standard or condition on the production or manufacture of any agricultural product sold or offered for sale in inter-state commerce if— (1) such production or manufacture occurs in another State; and (2) the standard or condition is in addition to the standards and conditions applicable to such production or manufacture pursuant to— (A) Federal law; and (B) the laws of the State and locality in which such production or manufacture occurs.”
According to Rep. King’s congressional website, “PICA will ensure that radical organizations like the Humane Society of the United States and PETA are prohibited from establishing a patchwork of restrictive state laws aimed at slowly suffocating production agriculture out of existence.”
However, the U.S. Humane Society says the amendment could prohibit states like Indiana from adopting humane treatment standards for their animal-based industries. Indiana is the third biggest producer of eggs, and has imposed anti-puppy mill laws, but some groups worry those regulations could go away.
But officials from the Indiana Department of Agriculture say there are already standards in place for regulating animal welfare in the state. A representative from the Indiana State Board of Animal Health said she understands the present state of the amendment to apply only to agricultural products imported into the state like California’s Proposition-2. She added that California applies welfare standards regarding confinement, movement, and gestation on eggs and other agricultural imports sold in the state.
Indiana officials say the state’s agricultural regulations apply only to Hoosier producers and don’t confer standards onto what it imports. They added that the laying hen and other animal industries all comply with health care standards and are not concerned about any relaxation in monitoring.
A representative from Congresswoman Jackie Walorski's office (R-IN) released a statement in regards to the controversial amendment:
“Congresswoman Walorski voted for the House version of the farm bill to provide critical support for Hoosier farmers and establish certainty in the agriculture industry. While serving in the state legislature, she advocated for strict animal anti-cruelty legislation and will continue to support the humane treatment of animals in Congress.”
But until the bill is finalized, no changes or regulations will be enacted.