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Every five years, Congress passes a new Farm Bill. This election year, the bill has stirred the pot of controversy. Without question, the constant fight over food stamp funding and the Brazilian ambassador threatening retaliation against the U.S. have been rewarded with media attention. However, animal activists have a stake in this bill that could present a debate across the states: an amendment that would determine whether or not California’s law on eggs could be stopped.
The California law which takes effect in 2015, bans the sale of eggs that are not produced by chickens in cages large enough for them to stand up in and spread their wings. This includes eggs from other states. A ban on foie gras, which is caused from force feeding geese, is also in jeopardy.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Rep. Steve King, who introduced the amendment, feels the California law violates the U.S. Constitutions Commerce Clause.
The amendment, called the “Protect Interstate Commerce Act,” was passed just before midnight on Wednesday night. Only 20 minutes was spent on debate.
This amendment brings up issues not just from animal rights activists, but from states rights supporters as well. The California egg law was passed by a ballot measure from voters in 2008. John Robbins of the Huffington Post writes that normally King is a strong supporter of states rights and that “perhaps the contradiction can be explained by the fact that King’s current bid for re-election depends on the financial backing of agribusiness interests in his state, and these interests are vehemently opposed to California’s laws.”
Wayne Pacelle of the Humane Society told The Hill that the amendment was “sweeping and far-reaching.”
“This as written would nullify thousands of local laws,” Pacelle told The Hill.
Supporters of the amendment say that California can’t dictate how businesses in other states should grow or produce their own food.
The current Farm Bill expires at the end of September. If the bill passes as it stands, it will spark debate between advocates of states’ rights and those for the free market.
Tags: animal rights, chickens, congress, farm bill, free market, king, regulation, vote
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