NCBA Op-Ed: Protect interstate commerce, protect animal ag

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As we come up on the end of the year and the holidays, I always look forward to spending Thanksgiving and Christmas with my whole family. It’s a time to reflect on the year that has gone by and give thanks. One of the great things about farming and ranching is the time we get to spend with family, not just at Christmas, but all year long. Naturally, I want to see my children and grandchildren for generations to come enjoy the same quality of life and advantages I have now. But as I look ahead, as best as anyone can, one of the major threats to our livelihood will continue to be animal-activist groups and their radical anti-animal agriculture agenda. These groups like Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) are actively working to put us out business, and they are well funded and claim to have millions of members nationwide. Groups like HSUS have used their influence in a number of ways, backing Congressional races in states like Iowa and bombarding mid-western state legislatures and Congress to pass legislation that they claim is in the best interest of animal welfare. Every year they push to strengthen animal cruelty laws, arbitrarily dictating animal-living conditions, and production practices in the name of their agenda. That is why it is critically important for groups like the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and our state affiliates to remain engaged to tell the true story of animal agriculture and cattle husbandry. We’re the ones who know best –we’re closest to the land and animals, and we work with cattle handling and well-being experts to ensure our production practices are the best in the world.

But despite these efforts, we continue to come under assault from detrimental legislation at the national and state level that comes disguised as being well-intentioned. The targets continue to be around gestation crates and cages for laying hens. Where HSUS and others cannot win victory at the national level, they turn to the state level and try to pass legislation in large states like California dictating these production practices. And California is a large enough state that a mandate on production practices there not only hurts producers and consumers in that state, but can affect production practices nationwide. This is unacceptable and a violation of the Constitutional protections on interstate commerce. We simply cannot have one state –any state –setting the standard for production practices in another. That is why we are supporting Congressman Steve King (R-Iowa) and his amendment to the 2013 Farm Bill. The King Amendment or the Protect Interstate Commerce Act, would protect the Constitutional prohibition on barriers to trade between the states. It is a legitimate use of Congressional authority to ensure free and open trade, and it makes sense to prevent ever increasing patchwork of legislation setting production standards across the country, spurred on by HSUS.

This legislation doesn’t set production standards or come between a producer and his or her veterinarian. It simply enforces one of the founding principles of our Union –that one state cannot impede the free flow of trade and commerce to or from another. That is why I believe everyone who is involved in or cares about animal agriculture should support this amendment and that is why it is vitally important that we continue to push forward and pass the 2013 Farm Bill. The farm bill remains the number one policy priority for the NCBA and producers need the certainty this legislation will provide, producers need the disaster assistance it will provide, and producers need the protections on commerce the King Amendment will provide.

 

I hope over this holiday season you will have time to spend with your family and friends. I also hope you can find some time along the way to reach out to your member of Congress and Senators, whether they’re on the farm bill conference committee or not, and urge them and their colleagues to pass the farm bill. And moreover, to support the King  Amendment. Groups like HSUS are working hard to  spread misinformation, and we need our grassroots  membership to set the record straight.


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