SAN ANTONIO -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack chuckled Monday when he was asked how his department would implement the King amendment if it were to be in the final version of the farm bill. He then indicated that by the time the provision goes into effect, he would be out of office.
"I won't be secretary if that is contained in the bill because by the time you go through all the legal challenges that will occur -- and there will be a lot because it's not well drafted," Vilsack said.
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, wrote the language preventing states from blocking agricultural products from other states that have been approved by USDA or the Food and Drug Administration. He wrote the provision mainly because California's chicken-cage initiative and an accompanying state law would require eggs sold in California to meet the same requirements as California egg producers. Yet, congressmen are divided on the King amendment because of fears about other laws that could be affected across the country.
"It's very confusing," Vilsack said. "It's complex. There are a lot of unintended consequences. There are a lot of folks who have angst not just outside of agriculture but in agriculture that that provision would be challenged."
Ideally, a farm bill conferees will hold a vote on whether the King provision stays or goes.
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