The ‘King amendment’ or more specifically, Sec. 11312 of H.R. 2642, is a provision to the Farm Bill introduced by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, that was approved by the United States House of Representatives in July of this year. A growing coalition of more than 80 groups, that includes the ASPCA, the Humane Society, CSPI, Food and Water Watch and the Center for Food Safety, has written an open letter in opposition to the amendment. Tuesday, the Organic Consumers Association announced joining the broad coalition in opposition to the dangerous amendment that has the power to “wipe out countless state laws and rules regulating agriculture and food labeling.”
The coalition notes that it is the vague language of the King amendment which is too broad and overreaching and may preempt laws set by individual states. The open letter explains, “The King amendment tries to force states to authorize the purely local sale and consumption of “any agricultural product” – no matter how dangerous, unethical, environmentally destructive, or otherwise of concern. In other words, if any one state in the union tolerates the production or sale of a particular agricultural product, under the King amendment the other 49 must do so as well.”
“The King amendment is an outrageous federal overreach that could undo rules adopted by states over many decades, on everything from pesticide exposure to child labor, BPA in baby food jars to conditions for animals on factory farms,” said Ronnie Cummins, national director of the OCA. “We find it ironic that Rep. King, a Tea Party conservative who claims to champion states’ rights, would be willing to eviscerate states’ rights to protect the health and safety of their citizens, in order to protect the interests of the big industrial agriculture companies.”
The protection laws that may be affected oversee “animal welfare, food safety, labeling, environmental requirements, fire safety, labor standards” and countless other issues. State laws that could be undermined or even preempted by the amendment include “laws regarding use of dangerous pesticides on crops; arsenic in poultry feed; rules on raw milk; tobacco laws, including laws requiring cigarettes to meet fire safety standards; artificial sweeteners, rules on firewood transported into the state in order to protect against invasive pests and damage to local forests; labeling requirements and germination standards for seeds; listing of chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm, and notification of significant amounts of chemicals in products; state pollution standards, such as bans on spraying sewage on crops directly before they are fed to people, and requirements for lagoon siting, wastewater discharge, and use of licensed sludge applicators; agricultural employment, including child labor laws, standards for inspections and certifications, and health and safety standards for agricultural employees involving use of dangerous farm machinery, field sanitation, exposure to pesticides, respiratory hazards, heat-illness, and hearing loss prevention; and animal welfare laws restricting practices such as intensive confinement of animals on large farms, horse slaughter, the killing of sharks for their fins, and the sale of dog and cat meat.”
The King amendment appears to be another legislative ploy used by big business to increase profit while decreasing their own liability and responsibility to ensure the safety of products sold to the public. Outraged? Urge elected Senators to ensure that neither this amendment nor anything like it is included in final House-Senate legislation.