Farm Bill Amendment Will Hurt Animals (and Everything Else)

Even if you like eating animals, you probably have some notion of the fact that animals have feelings. If you had a choice, would you rather your animals be kept in tiny, restrictive cages in which they can’t move at all? The proposed language in a farm bill that will combat state animal welfare laws would give commercial factory farmers free reign to do just that.

Under the guise of “protecting interstate commerce,” the House Agricultural Committee added language to a farm bill that would prevent the regulation of out-of-state production by the states. 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 who want to sell eggs in California but don’t want to provide their animals with larger cages. The law goes into effect in 2015.

But this language will have a much larger impact than just allowing farmers to treat their animals with wanton cruelty. Led by the Humane Society of the United States, a wide range of groups including the National Association of State Legislatures, the National Fraternal Order of Police and the Consumer Federation of America are all lobbying against the measure, which they say contains broad language that would affect many other aspects of trade.

The language, which could be broadly interpreted, could allow for fewer standards on puppy mills, as well as eliminating regulation on the pasteurization of oysters. It could also “pre-empt” state agricultural laws designed to protect the safety and well-being of farmland, waterways, forests and people. This bill could have potentially devastating effects on laws that keep us and our furry friends safe — all so that some farmers in Iowa can save a few bucks by not caring for their hens properly.

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