Sunday, June 24, 2007

Federal Legislation Threatens State Animal Protection Laws

Urge your members of Congress to ensure Farm Bill preserves voters' rights

In recent years and for the first time in American history, several states have passed laws prohibiting certain particularly inhumane factory farming methods. However, California's ban on force-feeding ducks and geese, the phasing out of gestation and veal crates in Arizona and elsewhere, horse slaughter bans in several states, and other key animal protection laws could all automatically become null and void if an agribusiness-driven provision buried in the new Farm Bill being considered by Congress is approved.

If this provision passes, states and localities will be forbidden to enact laws banning practices or products that they decide are a threat to public health, safety, or morals -- including those aimed at improving animal welfare, food safety, or environmental sustainability. Here is the language of the provision from Title 1 of the draft Chairman's Mark for the Farm Bill as it is currently written:

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no State or locality shall make any law prohibiting the use in commerce of an article that the Secretary of Agriculture has--(1) inspected and passed; or(2) determined to be of non-regulated status.”

Though short, this provision is wide in scope, and could have disastrous consequences for animal protection, potentially destroying years of hard work and closing off future prospects for passing humane laws. It would effectively take democracy out of the hands of states and voters and allow the federal government to dictate what constitutes "humane" treatment of animals -- even as our society is starting to recognize certain industrial farming practices are inherently cruel and unacceptable.

What You Can Do:

The Agriculture Committee is expected to vote on the Farm Bill on June 26, and could send it to the House floor by early to mid-July with Title 1, Section 123 still in place. Please "Take Action" now to tell your federal Representative and Senators that they must not pass a Farm Bill that would prevent states and localities from making their own laws to protect animals, food safety, and the environment. Feel free to edit the sample letter as you wish, and to follow up with a polite phone call or letter to your elected officials.