Section 11312, offered up by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, could effectively end a state’s ability to regulate agriculture, say critics, including members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation.
“This provision, referred to as the King Amendment, is a serious infringement on states’ rights with far reaching impacts, and we urge you to reject this provision in the final conference report,” states a letter signed by 23 U.S. Senators, including Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy of Connecticut. “The amendment would force state and local governments to allow the sale of products that meet federal production standards, or the production standards of the state in which the product was produced–even if the state receiving the product deems the product dangerous for consumers, farmers, or the environment. This amendment is an infringement of state regulatory powers.”
The farm bill approved by the House appears doomed in the Senate. It likely will go to a conference committee to hammer out an agreement and opponents of King’s amendment hope to strip the provision from the final version of the bill.
If they are unsuccessful, Connecticut’s just-passed mandate to label foods with genetically modified organisms may never see fruition. The legislature passed the GMO labeling law at the end of the 2013 session. It stipulates that food made with such ingredients must carry labels provided that four other states pass a similar bill. In addition, any combination of northeastern states (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania or New Jersey), with an aggregate population of at least 20 million people, must approve labeling legislation.
But the amendment would stop more than GMO labels. If enacted, states would be prohibited from regulating everything from the movement of firewood to discourage pests to the killing of sharks for their fins.
“We believe that Congress should not usurp the power of states to address the concerns of their citizens on animal protection or any number of other subjects,” states a letter signed by dozens of members of the House, including all five of Connecticut’s representatives. “The breadth and ambiguity of Rep. King’s amendment are striking.”