Op-Ed: Beat HSUS in the Farm Bill

Conceivably, any state could come up with unique “standards” for all sorts of reasons. And then all of a sudden it becomes much more difficult to simply sell agricultural products.

( Center for Consumer Freedom )

Want to cost the Humane Society of the United States over $12 million while protecting the future of animal agriculture? Then call your representatives in Congress and ask that they support the King Amendment.

For the past decade, HSUS’s political strategy to drive up the cost of animal agriculture has revolved around passing state laws that infringe on the free trade of agricultural goods. In California, HSUS spent over $10 million pushing Proposition 2 and its accompanying AB 1437, which banned non-cage-free eggs from being sold. HSUS then spent millions pushing an egg, pork, and veal measure in 2016 in Massachusetts, and this year is back in California lobbying for a new measure to restrict future pork sales.

It’s one thing to ask California farmers to abide by California’s guidelines—it’s an entirely different matter to require farmers outside the state to take orders from California.

California’s law ventures into the domain of interstate commerce, which states have no authority to regulate. Enter the Protect Interstate Commerce Act, also known as the King Amendment. The Amendment, proposed by Rep. Steve King (R - Iowa) would restore the freedom consumers have to make their own choices about what to buy at the supermarket. If the King Amendment is in the final version of the bill, restrictive laws like those imposed by California and Massachusetts would be reined in. The King Amendment is in the House version of the Farm Bill, but not the Senate’s.

However, if the King Amendment is not in the final version, then the stage is set for a domestic trade war—as if farmers weren’t suffering enough from the international tariff escalations.

Imagine a future where States are allowed to pass a checkerboard of their own agricultural regulations. Vermont and Wisconsin might decide to enact their own “standards” to exclude competing dairy products. Kentucky and Tennessee might have their own whiskey wars.

Conceivably, any state could come up with unique “standards” for all sorts of reasons. And then all of a sudden it becomes much more difficult to simply sell agricultural products.

Understandably, that’s not a future Americans, much less producers, are looking forward to.

Instead, imagine a future where Californians go to the supermarket and are able to make their own decisions about whether they want to pay the premium price for California eggs or if they want to stick with the budget-friendly eggs imported from Missouri. Why not have both options?

The amount of choice provided to consumers by farmers and rancher is incredible and should be protected.

HSUS is opposed to the eating of eggs, bacon, beef, ice cream, etc. HSUS knows its efforts will do little more than drive up the price of goods—which the group hopes will drive down demand while imposing significant costs on producers.

Critics of the King Amendment like to claim that restrictive laws like California’s are perfectly in line with state’s rights.

There’s nothing that says California has the right to impose production standards in Missouri. And of course, it was just a few short years ago when HSUS was lobbying for a federal Egg Bill that eventually failed. That bill would have overruled California law, yet HSUS didn’t seem concerned about state’s rights then, when it wasn’t a convenient talking point.

Don’t let lawmakers chicken out on protecting agriculture and consumer choice with the King Amendment. HSUS is lobbying against it with all of its might. The key Senators on the conference committee—namely Joni Ernst, John Hoeven, John Boozman, Heidi Heitkamp, Pat Roberts, and Mitch McConnell—need to hear from you.

 

Rick Berman is the Executive Director of the Center for Consumer Freedom and is also President of the Washington, DC-based public affairs firm Berman and Company, which specializes in research, communications, and creative advertising. Berman has founded several leading non-profit organizations known for their fact-based research and their aggressive communications campaigns.

 
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