Kathleen Parker's Aug. 21 column ("My Chicken, Myself," Perspectives) argues beautifully for more humane treatment of animals. Not only animal rights groups oppose Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King's amendment to the farm bill. All who want our society to become more, not less, humane and more independent of corporate influence should be very alarmed at the extreme power grab that this amendment is. It would exempt out-of-state producers from state and local laws on agricultural and animal-related businesses, thus rendering all nonfederal laws in these areas impotent.
In 2008, 63 percent of Californians voted for Proposition 2, which bans battery cages for egg-laying hens and crates for calves and pigs. These cruel confinement systems are clearly at odds with majority views about decent treatment for animals. As Ms. Parker asks, is it really cost-prohibitive to allow animals enough space to turn around in their cages? The King amendment would have the effect of nullifying Proposition 2, as well as hundreds of other state laws on farm or animal issues.
Eating meat, dairy products and eggs is totally unnecessary for human health. But if we're going to raise animals for food, we at least owe them a minimum standard of humane conditions. The Senate will debate the farm bill in September. Please urge Sens. Bob Casey and Pat Toomey to vote to remove the King amendment from the farm bill. For a fascinating look at what this amendment is all about, see James McWilliams' blog: http://james-mcwilliams.com/?p=4304.