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Published July 30, 2012, 09:17 AM

Farm bill protects producers

The farm bill is more than an agriculture bill — it’s a jobs bill, an energy bill, a conservation bill and a research bill.

By: Steve King, Agweek

WASHINGTON — The farm bill is more than an agriculture bill — it’s a jobs bill, an energy bill, a conservation bill and a research bill. As a senior member of the House Agriculture Committee, I know that the farm bill is one of the most important pieces of federal legislation Congress considers this year because 16 million jobs in our economy are associated with agriculture.

It is especially beneficial to Iowans since agriculture is an integral part of our lives. As further proof of the importance of agriculture to our state’s economy, Iowa’s Fifth Congressional District ranks third in the nation for the market value of agriculture products sold each year.

America depends on a strong agricultural economy. This is why I introduced two amendments to the 2012 farm bill. My amendments will help ensure that Iowa remains a leader in agriculture both at home and across the nation, and aims to protect the future of our land.

Product regulation

The first amendment I introduced prohibits a state from enacting laws that place onerous restrictions on the means of production for agricultural goods that are sold within its own borders but are produced in other states. After debate within the committee, the amendment was adopted to the bill by a voice vote.

The Constitution gives Congress the power to “regulate commerce ... among the several states” (Article II, Sec. 8, Clause 3). In recent years, we have seen a movement growing among several states to exercise broad new powers in regulating products — including ethanol, pork, beef, poultry and eggs — from entering their borders from other states.

For example, California has passed a law mandating that no eggs can be brought into or sold in the state if they are not laid by hens housed in “humane” facilities. Regardless of how they’re produced, eggs are already regulated by the Federal Egg Inspection Act, which ensures all eggs entering interstate commerce are safe for the consumer. States will be prohibited from a state-by-state haphazard patchwork of means of production regulations that will severely undermine our nation’s economy.

It is unacceptable for Iowa farmers who strenuously work to follow the law to be told that the eggs they produce are banned in other states. This law dramatically affects our producers, and my amendment will help Iowa farmers continue to produce a safe and healthy product that will continue to be sold in all 50 states. It also restores the “commerce clause” as it is written in the Constitution.

Flooding considerations

The committee also passed another amendment I offered. The amendment directs the secretary of agriculture to support efforts to provide increased flood protection to those devastated by last year’s historic flooding along the Missouri River. The amendment directs the secretary of agriculture to “take action to promote immediate increased flood protection for farmers, producers, and other agricultural interests in the Missouri River basin.” This will protect those who live, work and farm in the Missouri River Basin from future serious downstream flooding. I’ve introduced stand-alone legislation, H.R. 2942, to require the Army Corps of Engineers to do this, and through this amendment to the farm bill we’ve given the secretary of agriculture clear direction to ensure that this is accomplished.

As a lifelong Iowan, I understood from a young age that all new wealth comes from the land. As a member of the House Agriculture Committee I will push for a vote on this farm bill on the floor of the House so that it spurs positive growth in our economy. It is important to me that producers have stability and predictability in today’s markets. I will continue to make agricultural issues a top priority and ensure that Iowa remains a national and worldwide leader in agriculture.

Editor’s Note: King, a Republican, represents Iowa’s 5th District in the U.S. House of Representatives. This column originally appeared in the Sioux City (Iowa) Journal.