August 21, 2023
A bipartisan group of more than 170 lawmakers is urging Congress not to include the EATS Act in the new farm bill. That legislation, formally known as the Ending Agricultural Trade Suppression Act, would bar states from passing laws affecting agriculture production in other states. It was proposed after the Supreme Court upheld California’s controversial Proposition 12, which established more stringent animal housing requirements for products sold in that state.
On Monday, Reps. Earl Blumenauer, D- Ore., and Brian Fitzpatrick, R- Pa., crafted an open letter to House Ag Committee chair Glenn “GT” Thompson and ranking member David Scott. In it, they say they are strongly opposed to including the EATS Act in a new farm bill, pointing out that similar efforts failed in 2014 and 2018.
The letter was signed by 171 congressional members who say the EATS Act is an attempt by the pork industry to undermine new standards. They argue that 15 states have enacted their own regulations on the production and sale of things like egg-laying chickens, veal calves and mother pigs. They also note the egg industry did not fight these laws and is instead transitioning to cage-free facilities.
“This is not a case of California imposing its standards on other states,” the letter says. “Producers in any state can choose not to supply another state’s consumers or to segregate animals for different markets.”
The EATS Act opponents note that this is similar to what a pork industry economist said in his Supreme Court amicus brief. That economist contended that producers will only comply with Proposition 12 if it is economically beneficial to them. If it isn’t, they will continue to supply the majority of the North American pork market beyond California’s border and face little to no economic impact.
The EATS Act is currently being considered in the House and Senate. It has been endorsed by multiple trade associations, including the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the National Pork Producers Council, and the American Farm Bureau Federation. Multiple governors and state attorneys general have also penned open letters to Congress pushing for the bill’s passage. However, given the current makeup of Congress and the number of lawmakers speaking out against it, the EATS Act appears to have little chance of being included in a new farm bill.
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