WASHINGTON, and DES MOINES, Iowa – The farm bill conference committee’s new version of farm policy sailed through the House of Representatives Wednesday on a 251-166 vote.
Among other provisions left out of that conference report was an amendment from Iowa Rep. Steve King. The amendment was aimed at a 2008 California ballot proposition: the Prevent Farm Animal Cruelty Act, signed into law in 2010 by then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and set to take effect in 2015. That law will allow California to turn away imports of eggs from other states whose production standards don’t meet California’s.
According to Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey, no one’s arguing about what California does in its own borders.
“it’s just fine for California to produce eggs however they want,” Northey said. “Problem is, they can’t restrict legal and safe eggs from the other parts of the country from coming in there in a protectionist move against producers outside of California.”
Northey elaborated further on the problem: Iowa leads the nation in egg production, and come the first of next year, the egg industry nationwide could see serious market disruption.
“So what we’re talking about is a lot of eggs from Iowa that normally go to California that may be determined by Californians to not be legal next year.” said Northey. “That means California’s not going to have as many eggs. You could create a scenerio where California is short of eggs, and the rest of the country has more eggs than it needs because some of those used to go to California. We could end up with lower prices away from California, high prices in California doing nobody any good, and certainly consumers in California not have a choice in the kind of eggs that they would get.”
There are still opportunities to reinsert the King amendment into the farm bill, but Northey was pessimistic.
“I think the King amendment would be a huge improvement to this farm bill,” said Northey. “I think at the end of the day, we may not see it in the farm bill, so we’ll go that legal route with a lot of lawsuits and certainly a long time before this thing’s all settled.”
Rep. King released the following statement after voting in favor of the Agricultural Act of 2014.
This has been a long time coming for a final Farm Bill to be completed,” said King. “I am pleased that we have produced a 5-year Farm Bill for the people of Iowa and all Americans so they can have the agriculture policy predictability they deserve. The Fourth District is one of the leading agricultural production districts in America and I look forward to this bill helping continue that growth.
However, I’ve had my reservations. The livestock industry was not treated right by Senate Democrats and I resolve to bring those issues to a proper conclusion.
This was a good, bi-partisan effort and I am grateful for the hard work and efforts of Chairman Frank Lucas and my fellow Agriculture Committee Members. I was honored to be a voice at the table for Iowans throughout this process and I will continue my work to support sound agriculture policy moving forward.