Wednesday, July 18, 2012

He Must Have Failed Constitutional Law

Wayne Pacelle of the Humane Society of the United States is furious over a last-minute amendment to the farm bill passed last week by the House Agriculture Committee. The amendment, sponsored by Iowa Republican Steve King, limits the effects of state animal welfare laws like California’s ban on selling eggs from chickens kept in battery cages.

In a long and vitriolic blog post Tuesday, Pacelle lashed out at both the amendment and its author: “(King’s) proposal, which tramples states’ rights and the 10th amendment, is designed to nullify all of the voter-approved ballot measures to protect farm animals, including Prop 2 in California, which was approved by 64 percent of voters in November 2008. … Americans need to rise up and make sure that not one comma in King’s amendment makes it into the final farm bill. It is utterly unworthy of a nation built upon republican principles of government.”

In fact, King's amendment only would prevent states that regulate their own agricultural products from imposing those regulations on products imported from other states, which, last week checked, is a restraint of trade and, thus, a violation of the Constitution's Commerce Clause. 

Pacelle is also upset that another poultry-related amendment—this one codifies an agreement on hen housing between HSUS and an egg industry trade association—was not included in the bill. NPPC has led the opposition to that measure, saying it would set a “dangerous precedent” for allowing federal bureaucrats to regulate on-farm production practices, including animal housing.

The committee farm bill faces an uncertain future on the House floor. If passed by the House, it would need to be reconciled with a substantially different Senate bill.

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