U.S. House Passes Revised but Damaging Farm Bill!
State Humane Farming Laws Still in Jeopardy
On July 11, 2013, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a revised Farm Bill, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act, HR 2642, that contains virtually the same harmful language as a previous version of the bill that was defeated earlier with respect to state humane farming laws. This provision, known as the “King Amendment” must be stricken from the bill in the conference committee that will reconcile the House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill.
While the newly-passed bill was virtually the same with regard to animals in all respects—including a hopeful provision to tighten up federal laws regarding dogfighting—the House this time omitted funding for national food assistance programs. This legislation was passed along strictly partisan lines without support from House Democrats. The new bill contains the King Amendment adopted in the original bill, HR 1947, that would allow states without any humane welfare standards, such as a ban on battery cages or gestation crates, to market their products in states that have enacted such reforms, putting the farmers in those few states at a strong economic disadvantage as humanely raised products are more expensive to produce. It will therefore make it virtually impossible to pass legislation mandating more humane (and costly) farming measures because such welfare standards would drive producers out of business as cheaper products from other states flood the market.
It is essential that a Farm Bill be passed and quickly as agricultural subsidies as well as the food stamp program relies on approval of a new five-year plan. While the House has said that it will address funding for the food stamp program in separate legislation, the Senate version of the Farm Bill, S 954 already includes these provisions. But the Senate bill does not contain anything like the King amendment. When the Senate considered the House bill, it substituted its own language (the text of S 954) in place of the House provisions. That guarantees that a conference committee will be convened to reconcile these vastly different bills.
It is essential that we contact members of the conference committee—and all members of Congress—to let them know that inclusion of the King Amendment in the final version of this bill is unacceptable.
You can send a letter to your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative to let them know where you stand on this issue.