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Oklahoma AG calls on Congress to pass the EATS Act in response to Prop 12

Among other things, Proposition 12, requires at least 24 square feet of space per breeding pig in order for their pork meat to be sold in California.
Steven Weeks
Among other things, Proposition 12, requires at least 24 square feet of space per breeding pig in order for their pork meat to be sold in California.

Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond is calling on the U.S. Congress to pass the Ending Agricultural Trade Suppression Act.

The EATS Act is a bill designed to prevent states and local governments from regulating the production and distribution of food products within their borders that are subject to interstate commerce.

Drummond, alongside 15 other state attorneys general, has signed a letter to Congress advocating federal legislators to pass the bill in response to the U.S. Supreme Court upholding a California animal welfare law, in May.

“It is outrageous that California should have the authority to impose its regulations on Oklahoma farmers and ranchers,”Drummond said in a statement. “As a fifth-generation rancher myself, I will always fight for my fellow farmers and ranchers. I will fight for our state’s right to regulate agriculture within our own jurisdiction, free from the interference of other states.”

Proposition 12, a 2018 California ballot initiative, prohibits the sale of eggs, veal meat and pork products from animals confined in housing that’s smaller than the standards required by the state. For breeding pigs, the law requires at least 24 square feet of space per pig in order for their pork meat to be sold in California.

California represents about 13% of U.S. pork consumption, a significant market for pork producers.

The letter, written by the Attorney General of Iowa Brenna Bird, argues Proposition 12 imposes unfair restrictions on farmers producing food outside of California in order to sell their products there. The letter also states that it will be costly for farmers to implement and in turn, raise food costs for consumers across the country.Iowa is the top pork-producing state in the U.S.

Many animal welfare advocates celebrate Proposition 12 as one of the strongest animal welfare laws in the nation, as it affects the lives of millions of animals raised within and outside of California.

The implementation ofProposition 12 was delayed in June until the end of the year to allow pork producers time to adjust to the new regulations.

If the EATs Act is passed, it wouldn’t just affect Proposition 12, it would ultimately strip states of the power to regulate agricultural products that enter their state’s borders,according to Sentient Media, a non-profit agriculture news organization. Which means it would affect laws that target animal testing, pesticide use, wildlife trade and many more laws designed to protect public health and safety.

After Drummond’s call to Congress, advocates for Proposition 12, such as theKirkpatrick Policy Group, asked Congress to reject the EATs Act.

“The EATS Act doesn’t just affect the pork industry,” said Brendan Hoover,Kirkpatrick Policy Group coordinator, in a statement. “It would affect all ‘agricultural products’ as defined by U.S. Code, including agricultural, horticultural, viticultural, dairy products, livestock, poultry, and beekeeping. So much for limited government. Kirkpatrick Policy Group joins other farm advocacy groups and firmly opposes this wild government overreach.”

The letter signed by Drummond, alongside 15 other state attorneys general, can be read here.

This report was produced by the Oklahoma Public Media Exchange, a collaboration of public media organizations. Help support collaborative journalism by donating at the link at the top of this webpage

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