Congress is a mess - but business still needs to be done.
The U.S. Farm Bill is to be renewed by the U.S. Congress with amendments added to strengthen or weaken the bill.
In 2013, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) introduced, and the U.S. House of Representatives passed, what is called the "King Amendment." This Amendment is Section 11312 of H.R. 2642, Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013.
The King Amendment is not included in the Senate version. Congress will soon be finalizing the language (House and Senate versions) in the conference committee. Your voice is needed now.
What the King Amendment aims to do: The language in the King Amendment is broadly written and vague. It does have the potential to nullify many state laws that provide protection and safety to animals.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund summarized the King Amendment well:
"It is hard to overstate the devastating potential of Rep. Steve King's (R-IA) Farm Bill language. The King Amendment essentially forbids states from applying their own safety and welfare regulations to any "agricultural products" from out of state - including animals raise for food, eggs, and milk and even puppies and kittens sold to pet stores. It would nullify many of the hard-fought victories won by animal advocates to protect calves, hens, pregnant sows, and other animals - including California's foie gras ban, state-level gestation crate bans, as well as state laws cracking down on puppy mills and banning horsemeat and even dog meat sales. All could be eliminated by the current U.S. Farm Bill containing the King Amendment."
NOTE: Many of the larger puppy and kitten mills are located in rural, agricultural areas. Many of the puppies and kittens produced at these facilities are shipped across state lines to pet stores throughout the United States.
Who opposes this amendment?
A broad coalition of individuals and organizations representing sustainable agriculture, consumer, environmental, animal welfare, labor and other interests are urging conference committee members to remove the King Amendment from the Farm Bill.
The Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Legislative Fund, the ASPCA, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Farm Sanctuary, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Center for Food Safety, the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, the Sierra Club, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, and countless others have expressed opposition to the Amendment.
The National Conference of State Legislatures have also expressed their opposition to the King Amendment. Our own Minnesota State Senator Scott Dibble said:
"The King Amendment is a violation of state's rights and flies in the face of our system of government. One person is attempting to substitute his judgment for that of over 7,000 elected legislators who develop laws and policies that are responsive to local market conditions and more nimble responses to emerging public welfare, health, safety, and security issues. It is incumbent on all of us to pay close attention to this debate. It is breathtaking that an idea such as this is actually moving through one chamber of Congress."
The Fraternal Order of Police condemned the amendment too, "citing its concern that states must be able to have their own anti-cruelty laws.
This isn't just about animals. The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and 21 other fire and emergency services organizations also appealed to Congress expressing their opposition, since, tobacco being an agricultural product, King's Amendment could nullify state laws regarding fire-safe cigarettes."
What can you do? Take action.
Contact your US Senator and US Representatives. Ask them to oppose and help remove this Amendment. It's Section 11312 of H.R. 2642, Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 from the US Farm Bill. If you live in Minnesota, find out who represents you at: Minnesota District Finder
This is a Federal not a State bill. Leave a polite message. Protection for the animals must be ongoing and not allowed to back slide.
Resources used: Animal Folks of MN, The Animal Legal Defense Fund, MN State Senator Scott Dibble