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Farm Groups Applaud Those Standing Firm Behind the 10th Amendment in Opposition to the EATS Act

— October 10, 2023

NCSL, NACo, and NLC further asserted their firm opposition to the EATS Act by clearly reminding the Congressional leaders that the EATS Act is not a commerce clause issue, but rather it represents an attempt to undermine the sovereignty of state and local governments.

WASHINGTON DC – In a sweeping show of solidarity, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), National Association of Counties (NACo), and the National League of Cities (NLC) have jointly written a letter to the leadership of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate Agriculture Committees, stating their firm opposition to the federal bill, the Exposing Agricultural Trade Suppression (EATS) Act (H.R.4417/S.2019).

Led by Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, and Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kansas, the EATS Act would upend states’ rights by nullifying more than a thousand state and local agriculture and other laws, and is one of the measures being considered for inclusion in the Farm Bill.

NCSL, NACo, and NLC stressed in their letter to the Agriculture Committee leaders that if the EATS were to be passed into law it would “erode state and local sovereignty by prohibiting the establishment of laws and statutes that aim to protect our nation’s food production and manufacturing.” They provided a sharp reminder that it’s a “traditional role of state and local governments to protect and maintain the safety and general welfare of their residents.”

Citing the 10th Amendment, the cornerstone of constitutional federalism, the three organizations emphasized that the EATS act threatens state and local governments, who have the authority to enact laws that protect residents from a myriad of issues, such as invasive pests and livestock diseases. The organizations stated, “As the governments closest to the people, state and local officials understand the unique needs of our individual communities. The EATS Act threatens this relationship by attempting to establish precedence that limits state and local regulatory authority in broader domains.”

“We applaud NCSL, NACo, and NLC for representing the voice of U.S. states, counties and cities across the nation that would be undermined if the EATS Act is passed into law,” said Marty Irby, President at Competitive Markets Action and Board Secretary at the Organization for Competitive Markets. “Federal overreach in our nation’s agriculture sector is cause for serious alarm and EATS, or any similar language, has no business being included in the Farm Bill.”

A picturesque farm, surrounded by green crops, under a cloudy sky.
Public domain image by Jean Beaufort, courtesy of CC0

“The so-called Ending Agricultural Trade Suppression (EATS) Act is a direct assault on states’ rights and does not have the best interest of family farmers and independent producers in mind,” said Mike Schultz, Senior Vice-President at Organization for Competitive Markets and founder of the Kansas Cattlemen’s Association. “The bill is nothing but a Trojan Horse designed to put family farmers out of business and give multinational conglomerates like JBS and Chinese-owned Smithfield an even greater advantage than they already have.”

In closing, NCSL, NACo, and NLC further asserted their firm opposition to the EATS Act by clearly reminding the Congressional leaders that the EATS Act is not a commerce clause issue, but rather it represents an attempt to undermine the sovereignty of state and local governments who are entrusted with ensuring the strength and stability of communities.

This latest letter to the leadership of the Agriculture Committees echoes the sentiments of concerned lawmakers. Last month a bipartisan group of 30 U.S. Senators submitted a letter to Senate Agriculture Committee Leadership opposing the EATS Act. A coalition of over 170 U.S. Representatives also joined together and submitted a letter to U.S. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn “G.T.” Thompson, R-Pa., and Ranking Member David Scott, R-Ga., citing their opposition to the bill. Following these letters, the National Governors Association also submitted a letter, emphasizing the importance of avoiding preempting state level laws regarding agriculture production.

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) , created by state legislators and legislative staff in 1975, serves America’s 50 states, commonwealths, territories and the District of Columbia. Every state legislator and staffer is a member of the organization and has complete access to the latest in bipartisan policy research, training resources and technical assistance tailored specifically to their needs.

The National Association of Counties (NACo) strengthens America’s counties, serving nearly 40,000 county elected officials and 3.6 million county employees.  Founded in 1935, NACo unites county officials to advocate county priorities in federal policymaking, promote exemplary county policies and practices, optimize county and taxpayer resources and cost savings, and enrich the public’s understanding of county government.

The National League of Cities (NLC) is an organization comprised of city, town and village leaders that are focused on improving the quality of life for their current and future constituents. With nearly 100 years of dedication to the strength and advancement of local governments, NLC has gained the trust and support of more than 2,700 cities across the nation. Our mission is to relentlessly advocate for, and protect the interests of, cities, towns and villages by influencing federal policy, strengthening local leadership and driving innovative solutions.

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