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Farm Groups Urge Congressional Opposition to the EATS Act

Washington, D.C. — Today Farm Action Fund led 38 farmer and rancher organizations in sending a letter to Congressional Agriculture Committee leadership urging opposition to the Ending Agricultural Trade Suppression (EATS) Act (S.2019 and H.R.4417).

The farm groups write, “by blocking voters and local or state governments from establishing safeguards around the production or manufacture of agricultural products, the EATS Act would sacrifice market opportunities for family farmers, accelerate market concentration only to benefit a handful of corporate agribusinesses, and eliminate the ability of local governments to protect their citizens.”

The bill’s introduction comes after a recent 5-4 Supreme Court decision upheld California’s Proposition 12, a law setting minimum standards for pork sold in the state.

If passed, the EATS Act would strip states’ rights to make policies that create market opportunity for farmers and rural communities while handing over control of U.S. markets to global corporations.

The farm groups’ letter was sent on the heels of a China Weekly report stating that the EATS Act “will greatly increase China’s share of the U.S. pork market,” and that “China is still the largest pork producer in the world, and the passage of the Hinson/Marshall Act will directly benefit [Shuanghui International Holdings/Smithfield Corporation], eliminating the need to deal with the burden and complexity of different state laws.”

The China Weekly report goes on to say that our current state laws “tend to support smaller farms in the United States, which is unfavorable to multinational foreign companies and weakens the efficient operation of Chinese pork companies.”

The groups go on to call the EATS Act a “power grab by a tiny group of mega-farms and agribusinesses to the detriment of family farmers, ranchers, and rural communities,” and urge Congress to “reject the EATS Act’s attempt to override the right of all U.S. citizens to maintain local control over their food and farming systems.”

The EATS Act is written in the spirit of a controversial amendment 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 due to widespread bipartisan opposition.

The farm groups’ letter is available here.

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