Former Ag Secretary John Block’s Weekly Commentary –
Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by Monsanto, and John Deere. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.
And now for today’s commentary—
These are the words of Congressman Steve King (R-Iowa) – It is the responsibility of “Congress, not the states” to regulate interstate commerce.
Here is what this is all about. Mr. King offered an amendment to the farm bill which passed by a wide margin (33-13) in the House Ag Committee. The bill dictates that states cannot impose production standards on out-of-state agriculture producers. California law today does just that. If Arizona chickens aren’t caged in the California required size cage, their eggs cannot be sold in California. Can you believe that? The California law is pure and simple trade protectionism. The chicken cage issue is just the nose under the tent. They could just as easily write a law to restrict the import into California of bacon from Iowa because the minimum wage in Iowa is lower than the California minimum wage.
We are supposed to have free and open trade between states. If the citizens want a product from another state, they should be able to buy it. If Arizona eggs can not be sold in California, can Canadian eggs be sold in California? Don’t we have a Free Trade Agreement with Canada?
Here we are writing free trade agreements between nations. We shouldn’t have to negotiate a free trade agreement between states.
So, who is the champion of these trade restrictions? The Humane Society and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. O.K. What do they really want to accomplish? According to Mr. King, “They want to establish a patchwork of restrictive state laws aimed at slowly suffocating production agriculture out of existence.” I would add that their organizations do not support animal agriculture under any circumstances.
The Constitution’s Commerce clause should protect free trade between states. We get a farm bill, and if Mr. King’s amendment survives, that would guarantee free and unrestricted trade.
Until next week, I am John Block in Washington, D.C.