Meat Processors Rally Against EATS Act, Defend State Regulations like California’s Prop 12

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In a significant display of unity, over two dozen poultry and meat processors, marketers, and purveyors have banded together to oppose the proposed Ending Agricultural Trade Suppression (EATS) Act, which threatens to override state laws such as California’s Proposition 12.

The EATS Act, hailed by some as a measure to grant states and local governments greater regulatory authority over agriculture within their jurisdictions, has faced mounting criticism from companies specializing in claims-based meat products. These processors fear that the proposed legislation would strip away crucial state and local legislative powers, particularly in regulating the pre-harvest production of agricultural goods entering their own borders.

Expressing their concerns in an open letter addressed to Congress, signed by 25 prominent companies, including ButcherBox, Applegate, Niman Ranch, and Whole Foods Market, the meat processors emphasized the detrimental impact the EATS Act could have on humane farming practices. They argue that the proposed act, under the guise of protecting farmers from burdensome regulations, would undermine the progress made in fostering ethical and sustainable farming methods, for which many farmers have already invested time and resources to comply.

The signatories of the letter underscored their commitment to prioritizing the interests of consumers, business partners, and the broader food system over short-term profit gains. They stressed the importance of amplifying concerns regarding the potential rollback of state regulations through their platforms, highlighting the need for collective action to safeguard the welfare of people, animals, and the environment involved in food production.

The pushback against the EATS Act comes at a crucial juncture as legislators consider its inclusion in the 2023 Farm Bill. The companies behind the letter urge Congress to reject any attempts to incorporate the EATS Act or its iterations into the Farm Bill, emphasizing the importance of preserving the autonomy of states to enact regulations that align with their unique agricultural and ethical standards.

As the debate surrounding the EATS Act continues, the unified stance of these meat processors serves as a powerful reminder of the complex interplay between federal and state regulations in shaping the future of agriculture and food production in the United States.