Today, a bipartisan group of 30 U.S. senators sent a letter to the Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman and Ranking Member John Boozman expressing their opinion on H.R. 4417’s inclusion in the 2023 farm bill.
Different groups have had various reactions to the bill introduced by Kansas Sen. Dr. Roger Marshall. While the bill aims to prevent state or local laws that impact the preharvest of agricultural products that rely on interstate commerce, others argue that the top-down legislation will impact smaller farms while bolstering larger corporations, including foreign-owned companies.
In a Harvard Law School summary of the EATS Act, the authors say, “Although some producers might initially financially benefit from enactment of the EATS Act, the potential for market disruption and uncertainty is extremely high.”
The senators argued in their letter that the EATS Act would specifically harm smaller farmers, threatening state laws and infringing on the states’ rights to establish rules and regulations within their borders.
Two leading groups — the animal-rights activists Organization for Competitive Markets and Competitive Markets Action — as well as members of some agricultural associations, have spoken out on the EATS Act, lobbying members of Congress to oppose the act.
In July, the groups rallied in Washington, D.C., to join in nearly 100 meetings on Capitol Hill and spoke out against the EATS Act at their annual conference in Kansas City, Missouri. The groups claim to want to prevent “the marginalization of American family farmers” and halt the expansion of China’s takeover of American agriculture, which they believe is happening alongside conservative and libertarian advocacy groups like FreedomWorks.
Expect more letters against EATS from members of the House and Senate to be sent in the coming weeks.
“We write today expressing our strong opposition to the inclusion of the ‘Ending Agricultural Trade Suppression Act’ or any similar legislation in the 2023 Farm Bill,” wrote the members. “The EATS Act would have a sweeping impact if passed — threatening countless state laws and opening the floodgates to unnecessary litigation. The bill is particularly draconian in that it aims to negate state and local laws when there are no federal standards to take their place, creating an overnight regulatory vacuum. In doing so, the EATS Act would drastically broaden the scope of federal preemption and disregard the wisdom of duly enacted laws that address local concerns,” they continued.
The campaign against the EATS Act centers on the opposition of family poultry, pork, dairy farms, and independent cattle ranchers. EATS opponents claim to be concerned that Chinese interests are not solely focused on land rights — they are worried about them aggressively acquiring entire agricultural companies, posing a significant threat to American farming sovereignty.
The senators warn that particularly those that support American family farmers and ranchers would create an environment in which large, foreign-owned corporations can quickly expand across all 50 states without having to comply with state laws that protect rural communities, American farming families, and consumers.
“If EATS is included in the upcoming Farm Bill, it’ll mark the end of American family farming as we know it,” added Deborah Mills, Chairwoman of the National Dairy Producers Organization and a Board Director at the Organization for Competitive Markets. “We must fight this hostile takeover with everything we have — it’s clear from China Weekly’s recent commentary that the Hinson-Marshall EATS Act is China’s baby.”
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