Washington—Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) today led a bipartisan group of senators calling on the Senate Agriculture Committee to not include the controversial Ending Agricultural Trade Suppression Act (EATS) Act in the upcoming farm bill.
The EATS Act was introduced partially to overturn California’s Proposition 12, which established requirements for pork, egg and veal products sold within the state and was recently upheld by the Supreme Court. If enacted, the EATS Act would negate many state and local laws protecting food safety, farm workers and animal welfare.
“The EATS Act would drastically broaden the scope of federal preemption, and disregard the wisdom of duly-enacted laws that address local concerns,” the senators wrote. “Demand from consumers, food companies, and the farming community has propelled 15 states to enact public health, food safety, and humane standards for the in-state production and sale of products from egg-laying chickens, veal calves, and mother pigs. The EATS Act was introduced with the primary goal of undermining these standards.”
Senators Feinstein, Padilla and Booker were joined on the letter by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Bob Casey (D-Penn.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Tammy Duckworth (D-Wis.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Angus King, (I-Maine), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).
Senator Feinstein successfully blocked similar legislation in 2018 introduced by former Congressman Steve King (R-Iowa).
Full text of the letter is available here and follows:
August 29, 2023The Honorable Debbie Stabenow
Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry
328A Russell Senate Office BuildingThe Honorable John Boozman
Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry
328A Russell Senate Office Building
Dear Chairwoman Stabenow and Ranking Member Boozman,
We write today expressing our strong opposition to inclusion of the “Ending Agricultural Trade Suppression (EATS) Act” (S. 2019) or any similar legislation in the 2023 Farm Bill. Modeled after former Representative Steve King’s amendment, which was intensely controversial and ultimately excluded from the final 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills, the EATS Act would harm America’s small farmers and infringe on the fundamental rights of states to establish laws and regulations within their own borders.
The EATS Act would have a sweeping impact if passed—threatening countless state laws and opening the floodgates to unnecessary litigation. The bill is particularly draconian in that it aims to negate state and local laws when there are no federal standards to take their place, creating an overnight regulatory vacuum. In doing so, the EATS Act would drastically broaden the scope of federal preemption, and disregard the wisdom of duly-enacted laws that address local concerns.
The range of potentially impacted laws includes measures aimed at protecting states from invasive pests and infectious disease, health and safety standards, consumer information safeguards, food quality and safety regulations, animal welfare standards, and fishing regulations. Below are just a few of the many areas that could be impacted by the EATS Act:
- Alabama, Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota regulate the labeling of bitter almonds or prohibit their sale as a poison. Florida prohibits the sale of citrus fruits containing arsenic.
- Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Utah, Vermont and Wisconsin have laws that restrict the importation of firewood in order to prevent the spread of invasive pests and diseases. Additionally, at least 23 states have restrictions on the importation of Ash trees in order to prevent the spread of the emerald ash borer. Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina and Texas are among states that have passed laws to prevent the spread of the Asian citrus psyllid, which causes citrus greening, and many states have implemented regulations to protect iconic species of trees that grow in various regions of the United States.
- Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, and Texas have laws governing sales within their states of seeds and seed oils. Dozens of states have enacted laws on noxious weeds, rules for spraying manure on fields, sourcing requirements, and many other agricultural matters.
- Many states impose additional requirements beyond federal regulations to address risks to cattle from brucellosis (48 states), bovine tuberculosis (41 states), and Johne’s Disease (North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming).
Demand from consumers, food companies, and the farming community has propelled 15 states to enact public health, food safety, and humane standards for the in-state production and sale of products from egg-laying chickens, veal calves, and mother pigs. The EATS Act was introduced with the primary goal of undermining these standards – particularly California’s Proposition 12, in response to the Supreme Court’s recent decision upholding that law. Yet it is clear that the impacts of the EATS Act would be far broader, impacting food safety, farm worker protections, and environmental standards while ignoring the will of voters and infringing on states’ rights.
Due to these concerns, we respectfully ask that you reject inclusion of this provision in any form, as you did in the 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills. Thank you, and we look forward to working with you to pass a bipartisan Farm Bill this year.