INDIANA – Attorney General Todd Rokita this week called on Congress to enact legislation preventing states such as California from dictating rules to farmers and ranchers in Indiana.
“California’s got every right to regulate agricultural practices within its own borders,” Attorney General Rokita said. “But it shouldn’t have the authority to impose restrictions on farmers here in Indiana. If the U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t recognize this basic reality, then Congress needs to take action.”
In a letter sent Wednesday to congressional leaders, Attorney General Rokita and other attorneys general call for passage of the Ending Agricultural Trade Suppression (EATS) Act — H.R.4417 in the U.S. House and S.2019 in the U.S. Senate.
In May, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a California law that outlaws the sale of pork originating from sows housed in less than 24 square feet — even if such pork comes from out-of-state producers.
Attorney General Rokita led a 26-state coalition, in that case, supporting the National Pork Producers Council and other petitioners contesting the California law.
“This law hurts Hoosier hog farmers by forcing them to change their livestock systems in order to sell to California markets,” Attorney General Rokita said. “Beyond that, it also hurts Indiana families everywhere by increasing the costs of bacon and ham at grocery stores.”
Some small- and medium-sized pork producers could be forced to go out of business. California buys about 13 percent of the nation’s pork.
Extending beyond the pork industry, the Supreme Court’s decision paves the way for California and other states to similarly impose their will pertaining to other types of livestock production — and even other types of industries altogether.
On a philosophical level, Attorney General Rokita said, the court’s decision flies in the face of American federalism and free enterprise.
In the letter to congressional leaders, Attorney General Rokita and the other attorneys general noted that U.S. farmers already follow prudent techniques in raising livestock.
“American farmers and ranchers raise massive amounts of animal protein as affordably and humanely as possible,” the letter states. “American farmers’ techniques have developed over generations to constitute global best practices. No other country raises anywhere near as much delicious and high-quality pork.”
The letter – Congressional EATS Letter.pdf
This case is not the only one in which Attorney General Rokita has stood strongly for the interests and liberties of Hoosier farmers. Among other things, he has led efforts to curtail federal bureaucrats from riding roughshod over farmers’ property rights through such power grabs as the EPA’s expansion of its own powers under the Water of the United States rule. In this scenario, the EPA has used a rule intended to apply to navigable waters as a blunt instrument with which to smash property rights anytime a ditch crossed a land parcel or heavy rains caused flooding.