Representative Steve King (R-IA), the sponsor of an amendment to the House Farm Bill that will devastate the food safety laws that protect millions of Americans from illness, recently gave an interview bragging about what he had accomplished.
The King Amendment would essentially prevent states from developing strong independent health, safety, and cruelty standards, even if local voters want them.
This isn’t an unintended consequence. King says that his amendment “fixes the states and their political subdivisions regulating food production everywhere in America.” However, King might want to reconsider that position, as his amendment would legalize several horrific farming and food practices that some states have chosen to do away with:
• Florida, Ohio, and seven other states have banned confining pregnant pigs in cages that prevent them from moving their limbs or walking in a circle. Pigs confined in so-called gestation crates are forced to defecate where they stand, exposing them to serious risk of traumatic injury as a consequence of immobility, and the development of sores as a consequence of attempting to move against or bite the bars that confine them. They live their whole lives like this.
• Seven states have banned similar confinement for baby calves. So-called veal crates are designed to atrophy muscles to improve the taste of meat, creating what the ASPCA calls “lives of agony and frustration” for the cows until they are slaughtered at four or five months.
• Three states have banned tail-docking, wherein parts of cows tails are lopped off, often without anesthetics. The American Veterinary Medical Association opposes tail docking as unnecessary and highly painful.
• Maryland prohibits adding arsenic to chicken feed. Besides the obvious problems, this practice also spreads the poison into the surrounding soil as the chickens excrete waste.
King, though, brags that his legislation “wipes out everything they’ve [animal rights advocates] done with pork and veal.”
Indeed, King has a long record of opposing animal welfare law — he has, for example, been Congress’ leading advocate against anti-dogfighting legislation. He also believes that the Humane Society and other animal rights advocates are attempting to ban “production agriculture” and has fantasized about exposing vegetarians with “an agenda for our diets” on the House floor.
King has often been cited by outside groups as the “dumbest member of the Congress.” While he certainly has a large number of challengers for this title, he may indeed be the logical choice for this honor.