McIntyre needs to rethink Farm Bill amendment

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The 2013 Farm Bill conference committee had its first meeting Oct. 30. Among those serving on the committee, which is tasked with determining the final language of the bill, is Congressman Mike McIntyre, who represents our part of North Carolina.

A part of the bill proposed by Rep. Steve King of Iowa is getting a lot of attention, and rightly so.

The King Amendment, which is Section 11312 of the Farm Bill, H.R. 2642, prohibits “interference by state and local governments with production or manufacture of items in other states.”

It sounds good on the surface, but it alarms groups ranging from the American Public Health Association to Consumer Federation of America, from Defenders of Wildlife to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The reason is because the amendment “would force states to allow commerce in products they have banned— no matter how dangerous, unethical or environmentally destructive,” according to a recent op-ed in The Baltimore Sun by Maryland state legislators Jennie Forehand and Tom Hucker.

Laws in North Carolina threatened by the amendment include those regulating agricultural nitrogen loading to waterways; setting requirements for inspection, investigation, and quarantine of animals with biological residues, and for swine farms, lagoons, and waste application; and environmental planning, according to the Humane Society of the United States.

McIntyre does not see it that way.

“Many folks have raised concerns about the King Amendment to the Farm Bill,” Dean Mitchell, his chief of staff and press secretary, said via email. “This clarifies that this amendment only applies to agriculture products to ensure that farmers are able to move their products to market.”

Passage of the Farm Bill with this amendment, however, also means agricultural products brought to North Carolina for sale, purchase or consumption from elsewhere in the country would not be subject to our state’s standards — even if they exceed federal standards.

 “Jobs and the economy is the No. 1 concern in our state and the nation. One out of every five North Carolinians are employed by agriculture and agribusiness, making it the No. 1 industry in our state,” Mitchell said. “Therefore, Congressman McIntyre supports the Farm Bill, including the King Amendment, so that our farmers can move their products to market.”

It is not our farmers or their products that concern us.

It is not unreasonable for other states’ farmers’ products to meet our state’s standards to ensure safety and humane treatment.

Looking beneath the surface, we see the King Amendment as an unnecessary affront to states’ rights, human rights and animal rights.

We hope McIntyre will support North Carolina’s people and standards by withdrawing his support.