U.S. Rep. Steve King’s (R-IA) “Protect Interstate Commerce Act” has many folks biting their nails. Various groups have been expressing their concern about what the amendment to the long-awaited Farm Bill – which will not be finalized before January – could mean for states’ rights, the environment, animal welfare and food safety.
Late last week, 14 law professors from across the country weighed in on the potential impacts of the amendment, which would forbid any state from imposing its own higher standards or conditions on food produced or manufactured in another state.
In a letter sent to the Farm Bill’s top four conferees, the law professors wrote that “should the Amendment pass, there is a significant likelihood that many state agricultural laws across the country will be nullified, that public health and safety will be threatened, and that the Amendment could ultimately be deemed unconstitutional.”
At POLITICO’s Pro Agriculture Launch Event in November, King said that his amendment isn’t a threat to food safety because “you would hear from out states, you’d hear from the USDA, you’d hear from the FDA, or you would hear from out state veterinarians or state secretaries of agriculture if that was an issue.”
King also said that the possibility his amendment could nullify as many as 176 state laws is “not true. … We can only find one that we’re confident of, and that’s California’s [law regulating eggs from hens in a minimum cage size], which is only the regulation of out-of-state producers, and it looks like there may also be one in Michigan that does the same thing as California’s.”
“Although the exact number of laws that might be affected cannot be determined,” the law professors wrote, “we believe Representative King’s oft-repeated assertion that the law is limited to egg laws in California and a handful of similar humane laws is patently false.”
The law professors used Maryland’s ban on the use of arsenic in poultry feed as one example of how the King Amendment could play out. Under one interpretation, Maryland could not ban the sale of out-of-state feed because it contained arsenic. Under another interpretation, “Maryland would not even be able to protect its own citizens from exposure to arsenic from feed produced within the state’s borders.”
The signatories to the letter were professors at 13 university law schools, including UCLA, Cornell, Harvard, Northwestern, George Washington and Michigan State.© Food Safety News