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Missouri group says fixing ‘bacon ban’ in farm bill has unintended consequences

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(The Center Square) – An attempt to override California’s animal welfare law through this year’s federal farm bill will have unintended consequences, according to a Missouri farm group.

California’s Proposition 12, approved by 63% of voters in 2018, bans the sale or importation of pork, veal or eggs that were raised in confined spaces. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld California’s ability to enact and enforce the law in May after the National Pork Producers Council challenged the practice.

Last month, U.S. Reps. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, and Zach Nunn, R-Iowa, added the Ending Agricultural Trade Suppression (EATS) Act to the farm bill. It will prohibit state and local governments from interfering with the production or manufacture of agriculture products in other states. Earlier this week, 170 members of Congress signed a letter to the leaders of the House Committee on Agriculture opposing the EATS Act or any similar legislation in the 2023 Farm Bill.

“We’ve been opposed to the EATS Act for almost a decade and it wasn’t called the EATS Act back then; it was the Steve King amendment,” Tim Gibbons, communications director for the Missouri Rural Crisis Center, said in an interview with The Center Square. “The main reason we’re opposed is because of its impact on local control and the ability of locally elected representatives to create protections at the local, state and county levels.”

The Iowa Republicans stated the EATS Act reiterates the Constitution’s Commerce Clause, which gives the federal government the duty to regulate interstate commerce and prohibit state and local governments from interfering with the production or manufacturing of agricultural products.

“Our farmers take great care of their animals and ensure families have safe, affordable and high-quality food on the table,” Hinson said in a statement. “I am proud to lead the EATS Act to stand against this ‘bacon ban,’ ensure farmers can continue to feed the nation and protect interstate commerce.”

California produces only 1% of the nation’s pork, but it consumes 15%. Nearly a third of all the nation’s hogs are raised in Iowa as its annual production of 33 million hogs make it the top producer of pork in the nation.

Representing approximately 5,600 members throughout Missouri, Gibbons said his organization serves the needs of the independent family farm alongside multinational companies operating most of the state’s hog farms.

“They’ve got a loud voice because they’ve got billions and billions of dollars and farmers out here don’t have that loud of a voice,” Gibbons said. “But there’s a lot of us. There are a lot of people supporting independent family farmers in our state and in our country. I don’t want the narrative to be shaped by the very corporations developing the narrative. I think it needs to be shaped based on truth and what’s really going on.”

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