Congressman Steve King

Representing the 4th District of Iowa

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Opinion: PICA Stops California’s Egg, Pork, and Veal Ban

Nov 29, 2018
Column

Do the farmers of your state sell eggs to California? Our farmers in Iowa do.

Do your farmers sell pork to the Golden State? Do they sell Californians veal?  Again, the farmers in my state of Iowa do. I bet the farmers in your state trade in some of these goods too.

Because of this, you should know something important: California just banned your state’s goods.

The consequences for farmers in your state if they produce goods in a different way are similarly extreme: California will place an importation ban on non-complying out-of-state goods.On Election Day, California’s activist voters passed an extreme animal-rights law, Proposition 12. Under Proposition 12, all eggs sold in the state must come from cage-free hens by 2022. In addition, California law now requires new minimum cage size requirements for pigs and calves raised for veal.

The consequences for consumers are drastic too. The passage of Proposition 12 will certainly lead to enormous increases in the cost of eggs, pork, and veal, as farmers are forced to remodel or create expensive new housing for farm animals. For example, doubling the cage size-let alone free range- approximately doubles the cost of infrastructure and production.

It makes no difference to California whether the farmers in the other 49 states produce eggs, pork, and veal in compliance with the applicable health, safety and welfare measures of the state in which they live and work. It also makes no difference to California if the producers in the other 49 states are working in compliance with applicable federal standards required by the United States Department of Agriculture. As I have often said, “If it’s good enough for the USDA, it’s good enough for the USA and the rest of the world.”

It’s California’s way or it’s the highway for farmers in your state. California has decided it can unconstitutionally regulate interstate commerce, and it is the other 49 states that will suffer.

But there is a solution, and it’s in the House-passed version of the Farm Bill that is currently in conference committee. As a Member of the House Agriculture Committee, I was able to insert an amendment to the legislation that would protect farmers in the other 49 states from California’s regulatory overreach.

My amendment is known as the Protect Interstate Commerce Act (PICA). PICA is specifically designed to end unconstitutional efforts by some states to regulate the “production or manufacture of any agricultural product” in other states.

States do not have the Constitutional authority to regulate interstate commerce; the United States Congress does. If California, or any other state, wants to regulate how products are made within their borders, they can do so, and PICA allows a state like California to impose whatever burdens they want on their home state producers.

But neither  Iowa’s producers, nor the producers in the 48 other states  that now a face a California-sales ban, should be held hostage to the demands of California’s Vegan Lobby and California’s regulatory agencies. California is literally holding farmers in the other 49 states subject to regulation without representation.

California’s actions will hurt American agriculture at a time when international trade disputes have already disrupted many of our farmer’s existing marketplaces.  PICA encourages free trade between the states, and ensures that farmers in the other 49 states are not unconstitutionally excluded from our country’s largest marketplace. 

Agriculture producers nationwide understand the severity of the threat they face from California’s Proposition 12. That is why Proposition 12 was opposed by the National Association of Egg Farmers, the Association of California Egg Farmers, the National Pork Producers Council, and the California Pork Producers Association. 

President Ken Klippen of the National Association of Egg Farmers has endorsed my PICA legislation. He understands what is at stake. In asking the conferees to keep the “King Amendment” in the Farm Bill, Klippen stated:

“Farmers know how to produce safe, quality eggs while caring for their chickens.  Don't take that knowledge away by removing consumers' choices and forcing only cage-free eggs.”

Unfortunately, taking away this choice is exactly what California’s animal-rights activists have done, and why PICA is needed now more than ever. The Farm Bill conferees should keep the “King Amendment” in the Farm Bill.

 

About the author: Congressman Steve King, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, represents Iowa’s 4th Congressional District.

Note: This op-ed originally ran in Agri-Pulse on 11/29/18. 

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