August 18, 2023
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A coalition made up of several nationally recognized animal rights and agricultural groups including the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Farm Action Fund, Health Care Without Harm and the Natural Resources Defense Council announced on Thursday, Aug. 17, that they were in union to urge Congressional opposition to the Ending Agricultural Trade Suppression Act.
Kansas Senator Doc Marshall first introduced the EATS Act in June. Last week, a 16-state coalition — including Virginia — sent a letter to congressional leadership urging its passage.
As stated in the proposed bill, its purpose is “to prevent States and local jurisdictions from interfering with the production and distribution of agricultural products in interstate commerce, and for other purposes.”
Members of the coalition claim that the act aims to strip state and local governments of their right to make policies around the production and manufacture of agricultural products within their own borders, putting more than a thousand existing state and local laws on the chopping block and eliminating the ability of local governments to protect their communities’ health and well being.
“The EATS Act would accelerate market concentration in the food and agriculture industries to the benefit of a handful of multinational corporate agribusinesses,” Farm Action Fund President Joe Maxwell — a Missouri farmer — said. “This would be detrimental to rural economies, as the law would sacrifice critical opportunities for market differentiation that keep farmers afloat.”
In order to advocate for this position and spotlight the risks associated with including the EATS Act in the 2023 Farm Bill, the coalition recently launched a “Defeat EATS” campaign that includes a petition against the act’s passage that is collecting signatures for congress.
“If included in the 2023 Farm Bill,” Kara Shannon — director of farm animal welfare policy at the ASPCA — said, “the EATS Act would start a race to the bottom that hurts countless animals and negatively impacts farmers, rural communities and the environment. By stripping states of their right to regulate agricultural products, the EATS Act would eradicate much-needed support and economic opportunity for independent farmers investing in more humane and sustainable farming systems, further disadvantaging farmers already struggling to compete in markets dominated by industrial agriculture.”
According to a press release from Farm Action Fund, the EATS Act mirrors a previous piece of controversial legislation introduced by former Representative Steve King to the 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills known as the Protect Interstate Commerce Act. The measure failed both times and faced widespread bipartisan opposition.