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Natalie Willis, Reporter, Valley Ag Voice

More than 150 Congress Members spoke in opposition to the Ending Agricultural Trade Suppression Act on Monday, claiming the legislation infringes on state rights. The EATS Act, sponsored by Republican Senator Roger Marshall, would bar states from hindering agricultural products in other states.  

The bill was introduced in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s favorable ruling on Proposition 12, requiring pork producers to uphold minimum confinement standards. 

In a letter, 171 legislators from the House implored Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson to reject the EATS Act from the 2023 Farm Bill as well as any similar legislation. Democratic Representatives Earl Blumenauer and Brian Fitzpatrick led the letter. 

“At the behest of some in the pork industry, the EATS Act was introduced with the primary goal of undermining these standards – particularly California’s Proposition 12, which the Supreme Court upheld in a recent decision,” the letter stated.  

When the EATS Act was introduced in May, Marshall explained that the ruling is not limited to California producers since states that rely on importing pork products to the state must uphold the same regulations.  

“This is a matter of states’ rights,” Marshall said. “If California wants to regulate agriculture in its own state, that’s fine, but California’s rules should not apply to Kansas, whose legislature never approved of these regulations.” 

In their letter to Thompson, representatives claimed that Prop 12 is not intended to hinder producers in other states who can “choose not to supply to another state’s consumers.” However, legislators from meat-producing states outside of California continue to oppose its restrictions on agricultural imports. 

In a press release, co-leader of the EATS Act, Republican Senator Debbie Fischer explained that Prop 12 would have the adverse effect of increasing costs in animal production for producers in other states. 

“State regulations like California’s Proposition 12 could directly disrupt Nebraska producers’ ability to feed the nation,” Fischer said. “Congress shouldn’t allow any one state to single-handedly upend the country’s agricultural economy and force the American people to bear the burden of higher food prices.”  

The EATS Act is active on the House and Senate floors and received endorsements from trade associations such as the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the American Farm Bureau Federation. The bill was sent to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry in June.  

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