National Egg Farmers reached out to all the Farm Bill conference committee members in the House (47) and Senate (9) urging support for the King amendment, which is officially known as the Protect the Interstate Commerce Act (PICA).
PICA is included in the House-passed version of the Farm Bill, and now part of the conference bill. PICA was designed to prevent states from regulating farm animal production in other states.
For Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, who introduced the legislation, this would protect the state’s egg industry from laws in other states, such as California and Massachusetts, that have laws that set restrictions on how hens that lay eggs that are sold in in their state are raised, regardless of where they are raised. King argues this is unconstitutional.
A group, mostly consisting of Democrats, are urging agriculture committee leaders to not support inclusion of amendment into next farm bill.
The message to conferees from Ken Klippen, president of the National Egg Farmers said, “Don’t put another 'nail in the coffin' of farmers over trade. I’m not talking about trade between countries, but trade between the states.
“Farmers in your state are being harmed by this action since egg farmers sell their eggs across state lines. PICA exists to restore Constitutional intent regarding interstate commerce. The U.S. Constitution makes clear the need for free trade “among the several States” which is why it specifies the exclusive Constitutional enumerated power to regulate interstate commerce to the Congress,” Klippen's letter continued.
In the National Egg Farmers recent newsletter, the organization explained that reason they keep urging support for the King Amendment is because others are working so diligently against it.
“In a phone conversation with Ted Verrill, who works for Rep. Ralph Abraham, R-Louisiana, one of the Farm Bill conferees, indicated that the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has generated over 1,000 emails into their office in opposition to the King Amendment. Fortunately Rep. Abraham, who is a veterinarian, knows of the HSUS and will not be dissuaded from supporting the amendment,” the newsletter said.
New farm bill
The new farm bill is unlikely to be approved this year, according to Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst.
In a report from radio station KIWA in Iowa, Ernst, who sits on the 2018 Farm Bill Conference Committee, said negotiations have “taken a turn” in the wrong direction.
“I don’t think we’re close, and unfortunately it’s just taken a turn over the last week or so,” Ernst told KIWA. “I’m going to remain optimistic, but it’s starting to wane. Right now, we could be looking at a one-year extension.”
The current farm bill expires September 30.