Bipartisan Opposition Emerges Against Farm Bill Measure Blocking California’s Pork Production Regulations

A notable coalition of lawmakers has voiced their concerns over a provision within the Farm Bill aimed at negating California’s stringent pork production regulations. In a letter addressed to House Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) and ranking member David Scott (D-GA), lawmakers expressed strong reservations about the proposed Ending Agricultural Trade Suppression Act. This act seeks to counter laws like California’s Proposition 12, which imposes rigorous restrictions on pork producers.

Led by Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), the letter argues that the proposed EATS Act could have detrimental effects on small-scale farmers across the nation. Additionally, they believe the act might endanger various state laws and potentially infringe on states’ rights to establish their own regulations. Fitzpatrick was joined by several fellow Republicans including Representatives Mike Lawler (R-NY), Mike Garcia (R-CA), Chris Smith (R-NJ), and Lori Chavez-DeRemer (R-OR). Notable Democratic signatories include members of the progressive ‘Squad,’ such as Representatives Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Cori Bush (D-MO), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Greg Casar (D-TX), and Summer Lee (D-PA).

Proposition 12, the California law in question, mandates that all pork producers selling into the state must provide each sow with 24 square feet of space, incurring an estimated additional cost of $3,500 per sow for compliance. The law also extends to regulations for egg and veal production.

The EATS Act, introduced by Senator Roger Marshall (R-KS) and Representative Ashley Hinson (R-IA), invokes the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution. It aims to prevent states, like California, from effectively regulating producers from other states and potentially harming their markets.

Senator Marshall emphasized that the EATS Act’s purpose is to protect family farms nationwide from Proposition 12’s potential reach and to ensure that California’s regulations apply only within the state. He denounced what he perceived as the undue influence of radical animal rights groups attempting to over-regulate the agricultural industry.

A group of 171 House members asserted that producers could opt not to sell their products in California, thus avoiding the need to comply with the state’s regulations. This stance aligns with a Supreme Court ruling from May, in which Justice Neil Gorsuch argued that companies choosing to sell products in various states are generally required to adhere to those states’ laws.

Critics of Proposition 12 contend that the law carries an “extraterritorial” effect, imposing burdensome requirements on pork producers whose home states do not enforce such regulations.

Trade organizations in the agriculture sector, outside the scope of Proposition 12, including those representing the beef industry, oppose the measure due to its potential implications, which could extend to cattle production.

On the other hand, proponents of the Organization for Competitive Markets, an animal rights-focused group with conservative messaging, praised the letter. They highlighted the bipartisan support and emphasized their concerns about potential negative impacts on family farms, states’ rights, and the Constitution. The group’s president, Marty Irby, stated their preference for preventing the passage of a farm bill that incorporates the Hinson-Marshall legislation, which they perceive as detrimental to American agriculture.

As discussions and debates continue, the future of the EATS Act and its implications for pork production regulations in California remain uncertain.