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Farm bill drops dangerous 'King Amendment,' strengthens animal fighting law

On Monday, Jan. 27, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) announced that the Farm Bill conference report was released by the House-Senate conference committee - and it includes two major victories for the animals.

Farm bill drops dangerous 'King Amendment,' strengthens animal fighting law
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The compromise bill omits the controversial House-passed provision called the "King Amendment" which sought to nullify state laws setting standards for agricultural production. It also includes a provision that makes it a federal crime to attend or bring a child under the age of 16 to an animal fighting event.

From an animal welfare perspective, the King Amendment was one of the most dangerous pieces of legislation ever proposed.

The overreaching King Amendment (so named for its sponsor, Iowa Representative Steve King) threatened to effectively repeal dozens of animal protection laws already passed in states around the U.S.

It would have effectively nullified measures directly relating to animal welfare—like regulations on farm animal confinement, horse slaughter, puppy mills, and shark finning—as well as a wide range of other measures relating to food safety, child labor, and the environment.

The omission of the King Amendment from the Farm Bill was a victory for all animals, the environment, and all citizens of the U.S.

“The conference committee produced a Farm Bill that will fortify the federal law against organized and barbaric dogfighting and cockfighting rings, and thankfully jettisoned the dangerous and overreaching King amendment which threatened so many state and local laws on agriculture and animal welfare,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the HSUS.

He added: “The Farm Bill contains a dizzying number of provisions, but based on the outcome of these two critical issues on animal welfare, we will urge lawmakers to enact it.”

U.S. Senate and House negotiators met Monday, Jan. 27 to discuss the differences between two bills the chambers previously passed regarding multi-year agricultural policies, stripping out the King Amendment during their negotiations.

King's amendment was in response to California's Proposition 2 legislation that required larger housing for egg-laying hens by 2015.

The King Amendment would have prohibited California from enforcing Proposition 2 standards to goods imported from other states, thereby benefiting the agricultural industries in states where no such animal welfare standards have been adopted—states like Representative King’s home state of Iowa.

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