They are now dictating to producers the type of livestock facilities, down to cage size or pen type, that can be used for products to be sold in California. The California dairy industry is quickly going broke under the weight of state regulations dictating production practices and pricing. The cost of producing eggs in larger cages will be borne by consumers who say that they will pay more until the cost of food actually rises and then they become alarmed. Californians can fill their gas tanks with $4 per gallon Brazilian ethanol but are denied Iowa ethanol at $2.60 per gallon because of bogus land use assumptions that have been thoroughly disproven by university studies.
In order to stop them from restricting their markets to products produced in other states that do not adopt their production dictates, Steve King got a provision included in the farm bill that says that an egg is an egg wherever it is produced and if it meets the standards of any state in which it is produced, other states cannot deny access to them in their markets. In other words, if Iowa allows a different cage size for chickens than California, interstate commerce laws do not allow California to block the sale of Iowa eggs there.
This means states can't regulate production practices of other states by restricting market access. King explained, "I am pleased that the committee passed my amendment, the Protect Interstate Commerce Act (PICA), because states are entering into trade protectionism by requiring cost prohibitive production methods in other states. PICA blocks states from requiring 'free range' eggs or 'free range' pork but covers all agricultural products listed in section 206 of the Agriculture Marketing Act of 1946. By 2014 California will require only 'free range' eggs be sold and the impact of their large market would compel producers in every other state to invest billions to meet the California standard of 'means of production.' PICA will ensure that radical organizations like the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and PETA are prohibited from establishing a patchwork of restrictive state laws aimed at slowly suffocating production agriculture out of existence."
I strongly commend Steve King for seeing this problem and crafting a solution to it. This is a reason why Steve King wants the farm bill to move forward and why he intends to be part of the House-Senate conference committee so that he can fight to keep this measure in the final bill. He certainly has my support.
States have the right to regulate their own producers but not the right to deny interstate commerce to others. If California wants to make it a law that chickens can only be produced free range or cattle must be grass fed in California, so be it. They can't, however, embargo Iowa choice beef or Minnesota whole milk from being sold in their state. The ethanol industry is suing to stop California restrictions on their ethanol market blocking U.S. ethanol with carbon rules.
As you can imagine, Steve King's measure in the farm bill goes to the heart of the HSUS master plan to use state initiatives to regulate livestock production in the HSUS reflective image. These kinds of initiatives undermine elected legislatures and are a lot of the reason why California is such an economic invalid. California is voting on GMO food labeling, which will just add another brick to the crushing regulatory burden in that state. The HSUS has not un-surprisingly targeted Steve King for defeat in this re-election bid. The Humane Society Legislative Fund reportedly contributed $1,000 to his opponent's campaign and sent negative television ads, criticizing King on air on Iowa stations, that were so grossly distorting, those stations here refused to air them.
Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman said of the HSUS, "We will kick their butt out of Nebraska. HSUS is anti-agriculture. We don't want them in Nebraska. They don't represent our values." I think that Iowa Governor Terry Branstad should take that as his cue.
The 4th District Congressional race has now become a bigger fight than just a contest between two political candidates. It has now become a full-blown showdown between agriculture and an enemy of agriculture, the HSUS. We are not going to have other states tell us how to raise our livestock by denying us market access for our eggs, milk, pork, poultry, beef, ethanol and anything else that is produced in those states.
King's provision in the farm bill protects farm producer rights in interstate commerce. Who is Steve King running against in this election? Oh, that's right ... the HSUS. Given that choice, there is no question how friends of agriculture vote.
David Kruse is president of CommStock Investments, Inc., author and producer of The CommStock Report, an ag commentary and market analysis available daily by radio and by subscription on DTN/FarmDayta and the Internet. CommStock Investments is a registered CTA, as well as an introducing brokerage.