Farm bill takes aim at state animal welfare laws

by Rachel Baker on November 19, 2013

Concerns with language makes the farm bill in the House a major concern for the Senate

The future of state laws that regulate everything from the size of a hen’s cage to the safe consumption of Gulf oysters may be at stake as farm bill negotiators work to resolve a long-simmering fight between agriculture and animal welfare interests.

The House Agriculture Committee added language to its version of the farm bill earlier this year that says a state cannot impose certain production standards on agricultural products sold in interstate commerce. The provision, authored by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, is aimed at a California law that will require all eggs sold in the state to come from hens that inhabit cages in which they can spread their wings — a major burden for egg producers in Iowa and other states who don’t use large cages and still want to sell eggs to the lucrative California market. The law goes into effect in 2015.

“Bottom line of it is no state should be allowed to regulate production in other states,” King said at a meeting of House-Senate negotiators last month.

But opponents say that depending on how the language is interpreted, the provision could lead to challenges of dozens of other state laws — including some aimed at food safety, fire safety and basic consumer protections.

http://www.sfgate.com/news/science/article/Farm-bill-takes-aim-at-state-animal-welfare-laws-4992673.php

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