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Agricultural News

Farm Bill Provision Could Nullify Oklahoma Agricultural Laws, HSUS Claims

Mon, 19 Aug 2013 10:16:00 CDT

Farm Bill Provision Could Nullify Oklahoma Agricultural Laws, HSUS Claims
The Humane Society of the United States has distributed the following press release modified to target specific states:

Oklahoma's laws banning horsemeat for human consumption and many other states' agriculture laws are at risk of annulment unless Congress rejects a highly destructive provision adopted by the U.S. House of Representatives in its Farm Bill. The Senate version of the Farm Bill does not contain such a provision, and a House-Senate conference committee will soon work to negotiate a final bill.

The provision in the House bill from Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, could not only wipe out numerous state animal protection laws on puppy mills, farm animal confinement, shark finning, horse slaughter, and even dog meat, but also a wide range of other laws related to food safety, environmental protection, worker safety, labeling and more. Some laws in Oklahoma threatened by the King provision include those that:

--Ban possession of horsemeat for sale for human consumption (63 OKLA. STAT. ANN. § 1-1135-1139)
--Prohibit liquid swine waste management systems from being located certain distances from occupied residences (2 Okl.St.Ann. § 20-21)
--Require only grade A milk may be sold to final consumer, with certain exceptions (2 Okl.St.Ann. § 7-406)
--Prohibit moving livestock in or out of quarantine (2 Okl.St.Ann. § 6-125)
--Require fire-safe cigarettes in accordance with State Fire Marshal standards (OKLA. STAT. ANN. tit. 74, §§ 326.1 to 326.11)
--Require a license for those who sell cigarettes (OKLA. STAT. tit. 68, § 304)

"We hope Rep. Lucas will do right by the people of Oklahoma and protect our state agricultural laws from those in Washington, D.C. who seek to nullify them," said Cynthia Armstrong, Oklahoma state director of The Humane Society of the United States. "The King amendment could preempt a wide swath of voter-supported state laws covering everything from animal protection measures to child labor to pesticides."

More than 160 House lawmakers wrote to the leadership of their chamber's Agriculture Committee and expressed opposition to the King amendment.

Meanwhile, a broad coalition of more than 70 groups representing sustainable agriculture, consumer, environmental, animal welfare and other interests are also urging conference committee members to omit the provision.

If King's amendment becomes law, labeling and other rules for products and ingredients such as artificial sweeteners, maple syrup, milk fat, farm-raised fish, tobacco and additives in alcohol could be swept away. The same for controls on import of firewood carrying invasive pests, rules on pesticide exposure, safety standards for farm workers handling dangerous equipment, and laws restricting practices such as the killing of sharks for their fins and the sale of dog and cat meat.

Rep. King has a history of attempting to block animal welfare laws. He has voted in favor of killing horses for human consumption and trophy killing of polar bears even though they are a threatened species. He also voted against disaster response legislation to address the needs of people with pets, passed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and he opposed legislation to crack down on illegal dog fighting and cockfighting.

King's amendment could also nullify six state bans on gestation crates, horse slaughter bans in six states, comprehensive animal welfare standards adopted by the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board, and a raft of other animal protection laws designed to shield farm animals from abuse and extreme confinement.



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