Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today released the following statement responding to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack’s comments about the “King amendment” that is part of the ongoing farm bill negotiations.

“It is very troublesome that Secretary Vilsack appears to be siding with California and the Humane Society of the United States rather than standing up for all farmers producing legal and safe agriculture products. If the secretary truly has concerns about the King amendment, then he should work to address those concerns while the bill is in conference committee rather than speaking out against it.

“I would hope and expect Secretary Vilsack to be supportive of laws that ensure consumers have access to legal and safe products. USDA inspectors approve the sale of egg products. If eggs are safe to be sold in Iowa and around the country, then they should be able to be sold in California; that is all this amendment is trying to assure.

“California should not be allowed to dictate production methods to the rest of the country. This has the makings of an internal U.S. trade war. If it starts with eggs, you can be sure it won't end with eggs.”

In a report in Monday’s Politico, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack expressed concerns about the “King amendment” in the House farm bill during a conference call with reporters.

“That’s an amendment that’s frankly a bit troublesome in that it would create legal challenges and confusion in the market place,” Vilsack said. “It’s one that we have a lot of concerns about.”

Vilsack commented on the amendment, which was offered by Rep. Steve King of Iowa, in response to a question during a call about veterans transitioning to agriculture. The amendment, which appears aimed at California’s gestation crate laws, would prohibit states from regulating other states’ means of agricultural production.

Consumer advocacy and animal welfare groups have said that the amendment would preempt nearly 200 state laws, but King has maintained that his amendment has been mischaracterized. He said that it would affect only one or two laws.