The King Amendment

Following up on the 2013 Farm Bill – its rejection was not all bad news. An amendment on the bill, created by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, had the potential to nullify numerous state animal protection laws, including those regarding factory farm confinement, food safety, environmental protection, and worker safety. This has been coined the “King Amendment”.

The Senate version of the Farm Bill did not contain any language similar to the King Amendment.  The Humane Society of the United States and other groups strongly advocated to remove the King Amendment from the House Farm Bill on the floor, where the Farm Bill was rejected.

Hopefully, the next version of Farm Bill will be more sound in its entirety.

King’s amendment would have overturned voter-approved animal welfare ballot measures such as Proposition 2 in California (banning extreme confinement crates for pigs, veal calves and laying hens), Proposition 204 in Arizona (banning veal and pig gestation crates) and Amendment 10 in Florida (outlawing pig gestation crates). Photo by ASPCA

See current legal protections for farm animals here from ASPCA.

Sources: Anna West, The Humane Society of the United States, 16 May 2013; ASPCA, 2013

What is the Farm Bill, Anyways?

Sen. Debbie Stabenaw (D-MI), Chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. The Senate passed the Farm Bill

Sen. Debbie Stabenaw (D-MI), Chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. The Senate passed the Farm Bill.

Many of you may have recently read or heard news about the U.S. House of Representatives rejecting a five-year renewal of the Farm Bill. If you are like me, the next question you asked was what is the Farm Bill? This sounds like a question for Urban Hermits! According to the National Farmers Union, the Farm Bill is:

“…[A]n extensive, omnibus piece of legislation that is reauthorized roughly every five years. ‘Farm bill’ is really a misnomer, because although the legislation does contain a number of provisions that are critical to family farmers’, ranchers’, and fruit and vegetable growers’ economic success, more than 75 percent of the bill’s funding is allocated for nutrition assistance for the underprivileged, both in the United States and abroad. Much of the remaining provisions relate to rural business development, incentives  for renewable energy production, and protection of our country’s most precious natural resources” (National Farmers Union 2013).

Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla), Agriculture Committee Chairman. The House of Reps. rejected the Farm Bill last week

Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla), Agriculture Committee Chairman. The House of Reps. rejected the Farm Bill last week

It is that 75 percent that caused the Farm Bill to be rejected by the House last week. The Farm Bill is traditionally bipartisan, supported by the republicans who typically represent the districts containing most of the nation’s farmland and the democrats who have always been on board with federal assistance for both farmers and this country’s malnourished. However, food assistance, in particular, has been a huge point of debate between the two parties of recently, causing the farm bill to only receive a one year extension in 2012 and now, being rejected, a questionable future. Debates over the government’s $17 trillion budget deficit led to several amendments to the bill. Proposed reduction of food assistance caused democrats to vote “noe”, while continued subsidies and social spending led many republicans to vote against it, demanding more cuts to an already bloated budget. All in all, what is normally a bipartisan success transformed into a proposal that neither side could support, leading to a bold 234-195 “noe” vote (Jalonick 2013). What is next? Will the sides come together for another Farm Bill? In my mind, they’ll have to.

In the meantime, see how your representative voted HERE

Sources: “2013 Farm Bill”. National Farmers Union. Accessed 26 June 2013

Jalonick, Mary Clare. “House rejects farm bill, 62 republicans vote no”. The Associated Press. 20 June 2013

Images: “Debbie Stabenew” The Detroit News.; “Frank Lucas” Republican National Convention Blog.