As a senior member of the House Agriculture Committee, it is a privilege to work with my colleagues to help shape agriculture policy for the nation. Recently, a large part of this responsibility has become the need to protect our producers from an emerging patchwork of state regulations that make it difficult for farmers to continue to feed the world.
Our Founding Fathers specifically chose to grant the authority to regulate interstate commerce to Congress, not the states. This power is outlined in the Constitution and gives Congress the power to "regulate commerce ... among the several states" (Article I, Sec. 8, Clause 3). In 2008, Proposition 2 passed in California, mandating new “humane” facilities for hens raised by California farmers. In 2010, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a law mandating that no eggs can be brought into or sold in the state if they are not laid by hens housed in these new facilities. By passing this law, California, as one of our nation's most populated states, with its millions of consumers, is forcing producers around the country to comply with their unreasonable and arbitrary standards.
Over 38 million people live in California. It is clear the state is trying to regulate how livestock is produced by barring shipment into California if producers don't comply with these new standards. This effectively creates new federal animal welfare standards, by imposing an unconstitutional trade barrier. If this law is allowed to stand, there is nothing preventing other states from imposing similar standards, which could further restrict producers in other states. There will be considerable economic uncertainty that faces producers in other states as a result of this proposition. Regardless of how they're produced, eggs are already regulated by the Federal Egg Inspection Act, which ensures all eggs entering interstate commerce are safe for the consumer.
For all of these reasons, I was successful again this year in attaching the Protect Interstate Commerce Act (PICA), to the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act of 2013 during the House Agriculture Committee markup. This language will prohibit any state from enacting laws that place restrictions on the means of production for agricultural goods that are sold within the state but are produced in other states. PICA
is both a reactive and preventative measure. Current California law and referendum unconstitutionally regulates dramatically impacts producers from all over the nation, and PICA will help farmers across the country to continue to produce a safe and healthy products that will continue to be sold in all 50 states. It will ensure the federal government is able to put a halt to this unconstitutional activity by states and other political subdivisions.
The PICA amendment in no way supersedes state's rights and will not prevent states from imposing future food safety requirements within their own states. All federal food safety laws will still be in place, and no state will be forced to accept a product that is unsafe. PICA will also deliver a large setback to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and other radical animal rights organizations who are implementing this strategy of going state by state to create new state laws, creating trade barriers and a system that will eventually be too difficult for farmers to keep track of and abide by — which is exactly what HSUS hopes will happen.
I am grateful to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the numerous other livestock groups that have endorsed PICA. The staff at NCBA has worked tirelessly on behalf of this amendment, and because of their efforts, I fully believe that PICA could be the most influential amendment we have seen thus far added to the 2013 Farm Bill. California made a tremendous mistake by bowing to pressure from extreme animal rights groups to conform to new cage size standards, and now they are trying to get around the problem by imposing the same mistake on the rest of the country. Above all, members of the House Agriculture Committee should work to protect our nation's farmers and producers, not create more regulations to make their work more difficult