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Farm Bill Amendment Could Impact Animal Treatment in Indiana

June 19, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS - Lawmakers are putting many "eggs" in the Farm Bill "basket" in Washington, one of which could affect the welfare of farm animals, worker safety and environmental protection in Indiana and around the nation.

The amendment, sponsored by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, would allow only the federal government to make laws establishing animal-welfare practices for the agriculture industry. However, Paul Shapiro, vice president for farm animal protection at the Humane Society of the United States, said no pending federal legislation would replace state laws pre-empted by the amendment.

"Normally, when Congress pre-empts a state law, it's in order to replace it with a uniform national standard," he said. "In this case, Congressman King wants to get rid of the state regulations, whether or not they're conflicting, and replace it with nothing."

Supporters of King's amendment, called the Protect Interstate Commerce Act (PICA), say having different laws for each state makes it difficult for large-scale producers and impedes interstate commerce.

Shapiro called the language "vague" and said it could have wide-reaching effects, not only on factory farms but regulations about food safety, environmental protection and worker safety. He said he believes it's important for states to maintain the right to create legislation when they see it's necessary.

"Congressman King wants to take away the states' right to do just that," Shapiro said. "This could erase a swath of state rules that regulate the sale of various agricultural products."

The House is expected to take up the Farm Bill and King's amendment today.

Leigh DeNoon, Public News Service - IN