Saturday, January 18, 2014

Why the Farm Bill Matters to You

Rodale News
Leah Zerbe

farm bill of 2014 and eggs
It can be really tough to relate to the Farm Bill, the federal government's main tool for food and agricultural policy. (Blech…just the word "policy" may make it seem boring!) But the truth is the Farm Bill impacts us in many ways everyday. And this week, select senators and representatives are in conference committee hashing out differences and hoping to put together a long overdue Farm Bill package so Congress can potentially vote on it later this month.

But the Farm Bill—particularly this one, the Farm Bill of 2014—currently includes some pretty alarming language that could drastically change the state of your food system while also promoting animal cruelty.

Major Food Threats

The "Protect Interstate Commerce Act," known as the King Amendment, introduced by Rep. Steve King (R–Iowa), is a majorly controversial amendment included with the House version of the bill.

"[King's] doing the bidding of big agribusiness, we think," says Patty Lovera, assistant director of Food and Water Watch. "On lots of issues, we see states take action first. They often lead the way, change the policy, and make the requirement, especially with food." King's Amendment would potentially strip states of those rights.

The amendment is so controversial that 14 law professors reportedly drafted a letter late last year, describing the amendment as a major threat to food safety. They even said it might be considered unconstitutional.
It's not clear yet if this amendment will survive through the committee and land in the final version of the 2014 bill, but if it does, its broad, sweeping language could end the food system as we know it. Here's why: It could allow the federal government to override any state or local laws that impose higher standards or stipulations on foods produced in another state. That may not sound like a big deal, but it's opposed by more than 100 organizations representing many different viewpoints on worker safety, the environment, food safety, and animal welfare because it has the potential to knock down hundreds of existing food safety and animal welfare laws, according Michael Markarian, chief program and policy officer, the Humane Society of the United States.

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