MyRGV | COMMENTARY: Farmer makes plea to keep EATS Act out of Farm Bill

Reposted from:

August 7, 2023

For 30 years I proudly served this great nation, working first for the U.S. Coast Guard, then for he Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office of Investigation. I was a committed, loyal employee. I and my coworkers swore an oath to protect our homeland from threats both foreign and domestic.

Today as a retired government employee turned farmer, I stand on different ground, yet the commitment to safeguarding our homeland remains as resolute as ever.

Following my retirement my husband, a retired Coast Guard officer, and I found a new mission: farming and ranching. We settled into the heartland of America, on a patch of land we affectionately named CD&J Mini Ranch, nestled outside San Benito.

Our days were filled with raising grass-fed beef, pasture pork, chicken, turkey and farm-fresh eggs along with raising seasonal vegetables and our own hay to feed our animals. Our small farm helps subsidize our retirement pay and puts food on our table.

We are fortunate enough to have neighbors who believe the way we do. They want local-grown food that is raised clean, without herbicides or pesticides. They want to shop locally and get the best foods possible.

Unfortunately, we still need to scan the horizon for threats to our livelihoods, and in farming today there’s a new threat: the potential passage of a bill called the EATS Act, being promoted by Kansas Sen. Roger Marshall and Iowa Rep. Ashley Hinson. If this legislation passes, it will uproot the very fabric of American farming and the families it sustains by invalidating thousands of state-level agriculture laws and authorizing that only federal standards can apply.

It’s a shocking rebuke of local control of farming that has no precedent.

The EATS Act proposes to dismantle hard-fought state laws that support our farming families. Many of these are small, family-owned farms, all while paving the way for foreign corporations to buy up and control our country’s agriculture.

The repercussions would be devastating, leading to the undercutting of American family farmers, many who have devoted their lives to farming with care and love for what we do. It also would be a huge barrier for new farmers who want to start farming.

Congress has rejected this proposal twice before.

By this point you’re probably wondering why two politicians from states that know a thing or two about agriculture would try to enact this bill. In short, it’s because they’re only listening to large, faceless, international pig farming corporations that don’t like having to accommodate different state laws. Big corporate agriculture interests — especially foreign ones from China — find state laws inconvenient.

I’ll grant that the EATS Act is a great way to pander to this audience, but it’s devastating to those of us who run traditional family farms.

As someone who dedicated three decades to protecting our nation, I cannot stand idle and witness this betrayal.

If passed, the EATS Act would signify a forfeiture of our loyalty to American farmers in favor of profit-driven foreign interests. This is a blatant contradiction to the principles I spent my career defending, and it feels like a betrayal by the very country I devoted my life to protect.

By endorsing the EATS Act and allowing it to creep into the Farm Bill, we risk forsaking these Americans and the values we hold dear. We risk ceding control of our homeland’s food production — a matter of national security in its own right — to foreign corporations.

The duty of every public servant is to defend the interests of our people and our nation. Now, more than ever, it’s time to fulfill that duty. Let’s choose American family farms over foreign corporations. Let’s choose to keep our homeland’s food production in the hands of those who served and continue to serve this great country.

Please do not pass a Farm Bill with the EATS Act in it. No Farm Bill would be better than one that tramples on farmers and permanently erodes the ability of states to pass their own laws to help farmers like me.