close
close

Stop the EATS Act or Something Similar (Opinion) | Agricultural and agricultural news

I was president and co-owner of Giving Nature Foods in Pennsylvania. For over four decades, our company has sold our eggs to major retail outlets throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. My experience in this role has shown me the critical importance of local and humane agricultural standards, not only to my business, but also to supporting family farmers and independent growers across our state and country.

As such, I am deeply grateful for the bipartisan opposition to the EATS Act or similar provisions in the upcoming Farm Bill.

The proposed legislation threatens to overturn state-level elections that have established livestock laws. These laws greatly benefited Pennsylvania’s agricultural sectors, particularly the egg and pork industries.

For businesses that have invested heavily to comply with these voter-approved standards, this legislation could be disastrous. Rolling back these standards with a legislative gavel would disrupt the operations of many farms across the state, jeopardizing the stability of Pennsylvania’s egg and pork industries.

Our state leads the nation in humane production standards, particularly notable in the pork industry. Companies such as Clemens Food Group and Hershey Ag demonstrate this leadership, having been vocal opponents of the EATS Act due to its potential to jeopardize their businesses. Yet despite clear opposition within his own state, Rep. GT Thompson of Pennsylvania continues to push for the inclusion of this harmful language in the Farm Bill. His position appears to ignore the concerted efforts and voices of Pennsylvania’s agricultural community.

The biggest beneficiary of the EATS Act would not be American farmers, but rather a Chinese-owned pork producer and processor, which has been a strong supporter of EATS (as has Chinese state media) because of their interest in an agricultural landscape without rules. as they continue to infiltrate the US protein sector.

Fortunately, resistance to this decision extends to both sides of the aisle. All Democratic members of Congress from Pennsylvania, as well as Senators Bob Casey and John Fetterman, oppose the EATS Act. Additionally, no Republican Congressman from Pennsylvania (other than Thompson) supports it, with Republican Brian Fitzpatrick leading a bipartisan charge against the plan.

This opposition extends beyond elected officials to a diverse coalition, including organizations like Freedom Works, Moms for America, Farm Action, American Grassfed Association, Family Farm Defenders, National Family Farm Coalition, and National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition . State rights organizations such as the National Conference of State and Local Legislatures, the National Association of Counties and the National League of Cities also oppose it.

Adding to our concerns, recent outbreaks of avian flu affecting both chickens and now cows highlight the critical need for states to maintain authority over their agricultural practices and trade. Preventing Pennsylvania from establishing rules to control these zoonotic diseases poses an existential threat to our livestock and public health, which is exactly what the EATS Act would do.

Despite some indications that Rep. Thompson may no longer seek to repeal egg production laws, his continued efforts to eliminate pork production rules (again, standards supported by Pennsylvania’s pork industry) and preventing states from passing farm laws remain unacceptable.

As a long-time participant in the Pennsylvania egg industry, I cannot endorse a compromise that sacrifices one sector of our agricultural community for the benefit of another.

The unified stance of Pennsylvania’s Democratic and Republican leaders against the EATS Act should be a signal that no Farm Bill will be passed with any iteration of the EATS Act.

Our gratitude to those who fight for us is immense, and rest assured, Pennsylvania farmers will not forget the support you have shown.