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October 29, 2013 > Ohlone Humane Society Column: Animal protections and StatesÕ Rights come under the axe

Ohlone Humane Society Column: Animal protections and StatesÕ Rights come under the axe

If an amendment attached to this yearÕs U.S. House of Representatives Farm Bill becomes federal law, it threatens to overturn hard-won state and local animal protection legislation. The result will be far-reaching and devastating to animals, the environment and human health.

States with animal welfare laws such as Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, the Northern Mariana Island, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Rhode Island, will find existing legislation in serious danger of being abolished

Authored by Rep. Steve King of Iowa, H.R. 2642, the House bill includes dangerous provisions that could virtually annihilate cruelty laws by preventing states from enforcing existing and implementing future anti-cruelty legislation.

Congressman King is no friend of animals and has a long history of attempting to block federal legislation regulating dog fighting, horse slaughter; he was even against a federal policy that came in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to help ÔpetsÕ in disasters. During the consideration of the 2012 farm bill last summer, King also tried, unsuccessfully, to block an amendment that would make it a crime for an adult to attend or bring a child to a dogfight.

The ÒKing AmendmentÓ would wipe out most state and local laws regarding the production and manufacture of Òagricultural products.Ó The provisions are so broad in their interpretation that if enacted, it would not only create the ability of the agricultural industry to legally eliminate protections for farmed animals, but could extend to puppy mills, gestation crates, battery cages for chickens, shark finning, horse slaughter for food and conceivably eliminate prohibitions regarding eating companion animals.

The scope of the amendment is sweeping and states ÒThe measure is designed to prevent states from applying their own standards for any agricultural product to standards made in other states.Ó Federal law defines an agricultural product broadly. The term encompasses a wide swath of products such as such as livestock, poultry, dairy and plants, and Òany and all products raised or produced on farms and any processed or manufactured product thereof.Ó

According to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the Iowa Republican introduced the amendment in response to CaliforniaÕs Proposition 2, which requires egg-laying hens to be housed in roomier cages so they can stand up and spread their wings. If the King Amendment should end up as part of the final Farm Bill, California would no longer be able to apply this standard to the sale of eggs produced in other states. HSUS fears that the nationÕs 250 million egg-laying hens would suffer.

Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of HSUS stated in Time Magazine, ÒItÕs one of the most destructive and far-reaching anti-animal welfare provisions weÕve seen in decadesÉ It could nullify state laws to crack down on extreme confinement of animals on factory farms, on standards for puppy mills, on prohibitions on the sale of shark fins and much more.Ó This federal overreach with intentionally broad language will impact a wide range of other concerns including food safety, child labor, and environmental requirements such as the use of dangerous pesticides and labels on farm-raised fish and other agriculture-related health warnings.

The amendment, officially known as the Protect Interstate Commerce Act, is not included in the Senate-passed Farm Bill. However, it is extremely dangerous and needs to be removed when it comes before the House and Senate Agriculture Committee where differences will be resolved. The first conference will be held October 30th with the goal to reach agreement by December 13th.

Immediate, brief and polite calls to your U.S. Representative and two U.S. Senators are needed requesting removal of the King Amendment from the final draft of the 2014 Farm Bill and opposition to the attack on statesÕ rights.

To contact California members of the U.S. Congress, visit:

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