August 22, 2023
The campaign by farm-state lawmakers for a federal override of California’s Proposition 12 animal welfare law, derided as a “bacon ban,” has run into back-home opposition. Activist farm groups say the override, known as the EATS Act, imperils small farmers and must be kept out of the farm bill.
As one of the few must-pass bills before Congress, the farm bill would be a logical vehicle to carry the legislation if the EATS Act, the acronym for Ending Agricultural Trade Suppression Act, fails to move as a stand-alone bill. Companion versions were filed in the Senate and House following the Supreme Court decision in May upholding Prop 12 as constitutional.
“The EATS Act would accelerate market concentration in the food and agriculture industries to the benefit of a handful of multinational corporate agribusinesses,” said Missouri farmer Joe Maxwell, president of Farm Action Fund. It was part of a coalition, that includes the Natural Resources Defense Council and the ASPCA, behind the “Defeat Eats” campaign, launched last week.
Groups such as the fair-trade Organization for Competitive Markets and the Kansas Cattlemen’s Association were early opponents. “If EATS is included in the upcoming farm bill, it’ll mark the end of American family farming as we know it,” said Deborah Mills, a member of the OCM board and chairwoman of the National Dairy Producer Organization.
On Monday, 150 members of the House stated “our strong opposition to the inclusion” of the EATS Act “or any similar legislation in the 2023 farm bill” in a letter to the leaders of the House Agriculture Committee. The letter said “the EATS Act could harm America’s small farmers, threaten numerous state laws, and infringe on the fundamental rights of states to establish laws and regulations within their own borders.” Politico, which headlined the letter, said the EATS Act “would likely prove a poison pill” for the farm bill.