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HSUS applauds farm bill without King amendment

To hear Brandon’s Money Matters report on reactions to the farm bill and its omission of the King provision, click here.

WASHINGTON, and DES MOINES, Iowa – When the Agricultural Act of 2014 hits the President’s desk Friday for a signature, Iowa Rep. Steve King’s amendment won’t be in it. King’s amendment, called the Protect Interstate Commerce Act (PICA), would have prohibited states from setting production standards on agricultural products made in other states, and was directed at a California law signed in 2010 that will reduce egg imports in that state beginning January 1, 2015.

John Goodwin, Director of Animal Cruelty Policy with the Humane Society of the United States, says that provision would have affected more state laws than the one it targeted.

“In Maryland the legislature has passed a law that says that arsenic cannot be in poultry feed,” Goodwin said. “That would have been struck down. Vermont has certain laws to keep maple syrup pure. Those laws would have been struck down. There are laws in Mississippi, Arkansas, and Alabama, to protect catfish farmers from mislabeled Vietnamese imports, which would have been struck down.”

Leaving the amendment out has the potential to be bad news for Iowa, which leads the nation in egg production. But Goodwin says it might not be bad for everyone.

“I think there will be farmers who will take advantage of the California market requiring a higher standard for the humane housing of the birds,” said Goodwin, “and those farmers will convert their facilities and sell a lot of eggs to California, and will probably do quite well.”

In a teleconference call Wednesday, Iowa Rep. Bruce Braley said he doesn’t think any changes coming out of the California law will catch Iowan egg producers off guard.

“I think that it is the type of environment where we’ll see people continuing to plan for their business futures the way they had all along,” Braley said. “A lot of these decisions are made based on national supply and demand issues. So, even without that provision in the bill, I think producers know what they have to deal with in the marketplace, and will plan accordingly.”

The full text of King’s Protect Interstate Commerce Act (PICA) is reproduced below.

(a) IN GENERAL.—Consistent with Article I, section 8, clause 3 of the Constitution of the United States, 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.
(b) AGRICULTURAL PRODUCT DEFINED.—In this section, the term ‘‘agricultural product’’ has the meaning given such term in section 207 of the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 (7 U.S.C. 1626).