Today a diverse coalition led by the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®), Farm Action Fund, Health Care Without Harm, and NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) united to urge Congressional opposition to the Ending Agricultural Trade Suppression (EATS) Act (S.2019 and H.R.4417).
By launching the Defeat EATS campaign, the coalition is spotlighting the many risks associated with including the EATS Act in the 2023 Farm Bill.
The act aims to strip state and local governments of their right to make policies around the production and manufacture of agricultural products within their own borders. This would put more than a thousand existing state and local laws on the chopping block, eliminating the ability of local governments to protect their communities’ health and wellbeing.
Laws impacted by the EATS Act range from consumer protections, to environmental safeguards, to animal welfare regulations, food labeling laws, and more.
Farm Action Fund President Joe Maxwell, a Missouri farmer, said, “The EATS Act would accelerate market concentration in the food and agriculture industries to the benefit of a handful of multinational corporate agribusinesses. This would be detrimental to rural economies, as the law would sacrifice critical opportunities for market differentiation that keep farmers afloat.”
The EATS Act would also strip away existing state and local provisions that protect public health and the environment—from laws targeting invasive pests, to wildlife protection, to baby food safety.
Lena Brook, Acting Director, Food and Agriculture with NRDC, said, “Communities deserve the flexibility to enact laws that protect public health, air, water, and wildlife. The EATS Act would strip away these important rights, and it risks reversing decades of environmental progress at a time when we face twin climate and biodiversity crises globally.”
Emma Sirois, director of healthy food in health care at Health Care Without Harm, said, “Health Care Without Harm supports a food system that promotes healthy people and healthy environments. The overly broad language of the EATS Act undermines voter-approved state legislation to reject animal products raised under inhumane and environmentally destructive conditions. If passed, the EATS Act would make the U.S. food system more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change while encouraging the largest and most egregious violators of human health and animal welfare standards to maintain the status quo.”
The EATS Act would also decimate state-level animal protection laws that have been enacted by policymakers across the political spectrum. This includes negating existing state laws that ban or restrict the use of extreme animal confinement practices, such as gestation crates, veal crates, and cages for egg-laying hens.
Kara Shannon, director of farm animal welfare policy at the ASPCA, said, “If included in the 2023 Farm Bill, the EATS Act would start a race to the bottom that hurts countless animals and negatively impacts farmers, rural communities and the environment. By stripping states of their right to regulate agricultural products, the EATS Act would eradicate much-needed support and economic opportunity for independent farmers investing in more humane and sustainable farming systems, further disadvantaging farmers already struggling to compete in markets dominated by industrial agriculture.”
The EATS Act mirrors a previous piece of controversial legislation introduced by former Representative Steve King (R-IA) to the 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills: the Protect Interstate Commerce Act (H.R.3599), known as the “King Amendment.” The measure failed both times and faced widespread bipartisan opposition.
For more information about the Defeat EATS campaign and to sign the petition urging Congress to reject the EATS Act, visit the coalition website here.
Alexander Craig, ASPCA®, email@example.com
Dee Laninga, Farm Action Fund, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-450-0094
Ella Schwotzer, Health Care Without Harm, email@example.com
Addison Wingate, NRDC, awingate@NRDC.org