On Feb. 3, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) re-introduced his Protect Interstate Commerce Act (PICA), which he attempted to amend into last year’s farm bill. King’s bill would prevent states and local jurisdictions from interfering with the production and distribution of agricultural products in interstate or foreign commerce. In his statement about PICA, King referenced California’s statewide ban on the sale of eggs from hens raised in battery cages. “Just within the last month in anticipation of the new law coming into effect, California experienced a 79 percent increase in egg prices,” King said. “Outside of California, the Midwest has seen a 35 percent increase since January 2014 in anticipation of these new requirements.” His legislation would allow eggs from out of state that are already regulated by the Federal Egg Inspection Act to be sold in California even if they aren’t produced under California’s specific standards. But “[t]his issue goes far beyond the California egg issue,” King said. “Restricting interstate trade would create a great deal of confusion and increased costs to manufacturers. This would create a patchwork quilt of conflicting state regulations erected for trade protectionism reasons.” PICA is about choice, King said, and it wouldn’t prevent a state from implementing its own labeling policies on products, or from setting standards of production within their own borders. “Open and unrestricted commerce between the states is a vital component for a thriving economy,” he said. During the farm bill debate, various groups were concerned that a PICA amendment could nullify laws protecting states’ rights, the environment, animal welfare and food safety. The bill has six co-sponsors, including five Republicans and Democrat Collin Peterson of Minnesota, and has been assigned to the House Agriculture Committee.