The King Amendment’s Attack on State Animal Welfare Laws

Both the US House of Representatives and Senate have passed versions of the 2013 Farm Bill, and the two chambers of Congress must now reconcile their respective bills and agree upon the provisions that will become law. The House bill includes a dangerous amendment inserted by Congressman Steve King (R-IA) that would prohibit states from establishing animal welfare standards for agricultural products sold in-state but produced elsewhere.

This provision would shield producers from having to comply with farm animal welfare laws of the states where they do business. It would, in fact, interfere with countless state laws across the country and would nullify the progress that has been made in many states to better protect farmed animals from cruelty. In California for instance, it could invalidate laws prohibiting the sale of eggs from hens kept in extremely small, crowded battery cages, as well as foie gras, which is produced by brutally force-feeding geese. It could also interfere with states' restrictions and bans on gestation crates for pigs, veal crates for calves, tail-docking for cattle, and horse slaughter. In addition to animal welfare provisions, the broadly worded amendment could have consequences that extend to food safety, worker protection, and environmental quality standards.

As the House and Senate reconcile their respective versions of the 2013 Farm Bill, AWI will seek to ensure that the King amendment to the House Farm Bill is omitted from the enacted legislation.

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