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Law Professors Voice Concerns Over Farm Bill’s King Amendment

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
  • ziggypop

    The USDA and FDA have been completely neutered by ALEC tbagging legislators, Farm Bureau, Chamber of Commerce, the koch bros, (who own large cattle ranches), meat/dairy producers and corn/soy producers.

    Look at the poison in our food chain. We need to castrate these corporate and “non profit” entities and get back to ethically grown and drug and GMO free foods.

    FYI-the meat producers have made sure the USDA is going to lay off 50% of their meat inspectors and the same unethical corporations are going to start “inspecting” their own meat packing plants.

    • Oginikwe

      These industries can’t be trusted to not poison us and our families: that’s why they all back tort “reform” which is really about ending any legal right to sue for harm done.

      • Dr. Rob Stuart

        If our food is so bad for us, then why are we living longer than at any time in our history? If GMO-feeds were bad for cattle, swine, and poultry, then wouldn’t they be all dead? I would trust a farmer instead of an attorney any day.

        • Emily73

          Unfortunately, you aren’t trusting a “farmer”. You’re trusting a huge corporation that has only one bottom line: profit.

        • Oginikwe

          We are farmers which is why we raise all of our own meat and won’t touch mass-produced meat.

          Glad you trust us, though. Lol. However, I would trust Mr. Marler–you and your industry, not so much. Not at all. Ever. Again.

          • Dr. Rob Stuart

            What type of car do you drive? I wonder if it is mass-produced in some large factory or is it produced by a local mechanic.

          • Oginikwe

            Why? Because food is just like a car?

        • Diogenes22

          The US has embarrassingly very high mortality rates for newborns, our length of life has leveled out, and many of us live on supplements, vitamins and minerals so we survive.

          Those of us who are in our 70’s plus have excellent genetics passed down to us by our well fed ancestors. As we move into the future you will see that newborns have weakened DNA and will die much younger.

          Do some research on GMO’s. The researchers were beginning to let out the truth of their dangers to our health in the beginning of the century and the greedy corruptors started shutting them down by having them fired and defunded. Get yourself educated.

          • Dr. Rob Stuart

            Thanks for the advise. Your statements are interesting. Weakened DNA. I have never heard or read about that. What is the reference? Where did you go to college?

        • rstsummers

          People have been living longer than previously, but are much sicker today than ever in history, and in the future, we have every reason to believe life span will decrease for those who do not eat the safer foods. Actually, many,many farm animals as well as pets are sick from eating GMOs, you just are not hearing about what is happening, because the rare article that is published is quickly quashed by industry. I have spoken directly to at least one farmer who refuses to eat food grown by most of his neighbors because he knows it is unsafe.

          • Rob Stuart, Ph.D.

            You know one farmer when there are millions consuming beef, pork and poultry from animals fed grains and by-products from geneticaly-modified plants. Genetically modifying plants reduces the need for pesticides and reduces the need for tilling the soil, thus reducing erosion. No one ever talks about the positives, they just throw out these scare tactics. So sad!

        • ziggypop

          They no longer live long enough before given their dose of growth hormone to weight them up before the bolt gun hits them, now do they?

          Real farmers don’t run factory farms, abuse their animals, and jeopardize human health for profit.

  • Diogenes22

    The King Amendment would wipe out decades of state’s food safety and animal welfare legislation with one single swoop. I live in CA and we have a State SAFE ACT that prohibits horse slaughter of any CA horse including transport to slaughter. That bill among many would be wiped out. How dare he even suggest such much less put it into a Farm Bill Amendment.

  • Do you really think it’s all the state laws that are protecting you from food born illnesses? That if suddenly all the regulatory agencies were voided that our food chain would descend into the 7th level of hell? Really people, get a grip. A little economics 101 might be good here:

    1) If you kill off your consumers, guess what? You loose business and money.
    2) If you sell a shoddy product, guess what? People will find the quality that their budget will support.
    3) Regulatory agencies are about politics, not serving the public. Their mandates change with the administration.
    4) Large corporate farms use regulation to control the market. The work hand-in-hand with the State to siphon money from tax payers via subsidies, and lock out small producers via regulation and compliance laws.

    Thinking that California is trying to shut out cheap eggs being dumped in their market in order to protect the consumer and punish chicken ranchers for inhumane treatment is simply naive. They are being lobbied by the CA state ranchers to protect their market from foreign competition, and give substantial kickbacks to legislators to pass these restrictive laws.

    If regulation by the State were the panacea you folks seem to think it is, we’d have the best quality foods, by the most responsible farms, and there’d be no diet related illnesses anywhere in America. Instead you find just the opposite. Wake up!

    • rstsummers

      The problem is not so much one of killing off your customers but one of making them chronically ill. What is the current incidence of chronic illness in the US. Most of this is caused by what we eat and by our chronic exposure to chemicals that have never been tested for safety in the US. We are talking most cancers, diabetes, obesity, allergies and probably a lot of the inflammatory diseases like arthritis, auto-immune disease and a host of intestinal problems. Perhaps you also need to do some waking up. There are state regulations existing and pending which ARE there for public health reasons, and which will never get passed by the congress.

  • Dr. Rob Stuart

    This responder proved to me that most of them are vulgar and uninformed. I would safely say that most deaths and problem deliveries are due to the use of illegal drugs. To blame pharmaceutical companies for all our ills is so interesting. How many of the responders buy their cars from factories. Why don’t they get their local mechanic to build them a car so they won’t have to depend on large factories.

    • rstsummers

      Vulgar, maybe, uninformed, not so much. You would safely say that most deaths and problem deliveries are due to the use of illegal drugs. Where on earth do you get your information. That is preposterous and simply untrue. Pharmaceutical companies ARE,in fact responsible for a lot of problems. ALL chemical drugs have side effects, some of them are fatal. Others take years to develop. I’ve taken medications for decades, and my health is now paying the price. There is a big difference between manufacturing cars and manufacturing the food we eat. These are issues of economics and efficiency, but our health is not always an appropriate place to rely on such.

    • Oginikwe

      What is vulgar is the chronic recalls from contamination across the food industry. As far as uninformed goes, I read that to mean that you expected to waltz onto this site with your line of corporate bs and expect the people who frequent this site to swallow it.

      I’m sorry that you are offended by some people being what you call “vulgar” when we don’t prescribe to your propaganda, doublespeak, and weasel words. We tend to think of “those” people as cutting to chase and speaking clearly and plainly.

  • Jim

    The federal government should NEVER nullify state laws just because industry opposes them. If the industry opposes them, they should use the democratic process to get them repealed in the states that passed them rather than going and whining to the feds.