Home Commentary How to Ruffle the Feathers of a Chicken Activist

How to Ruffle the Feathers of a Chicken Activist


One of the fastest and easier ways to stir up the ire of radical animal activist groups is to use the tactics they use against you, against them. This is exactly was has happened to get a flock of these groups clucking and flapping their wings over the King amendment in the House version of the Farm Bill.  In a true pecking party, these activist groups and their liberal media friends are cackling loudly about  Iowa Congressman’s Steve King’s measure that would put a stop to their efforts to regulate egg production in every state.


The King amendment is straight and narrow. Put simply, it enforces the Constitutional provisions which prevent one state from imposing regulatory mandates on producers in other states. Any state can regulate farmers in its own state, but a state does not have the right to construct arbitrary interstate trade barriers and impose its will on farmers and obstruct the rights of other states. This is a checkmate move against activists who have been trying to use the extreme regulations in California to control agricultural production in other states.


The Humane Society of the United States spend about $4 million to push through a referendum in California that required poultry producers to use expensive and unnecessary production methods in egg production. Proposition 2 also mandated that eggs produced in other states — but sold in California — must also  comply with these regulations.  According to the Wall Street Journal, “California’s 38 million citizens comprise the largest market in the U.S., which means the hen pecking more or less dictates livestock standards to the rest of the country. That’s precisely why activists went to the Golden State, which these days throws around its market weight to set national environmental standards on everything from cars to low-carbon fuels.”


This is just what HSUS wants to do, use its support in a state like California to impact agricultural production nationwide. “Congressman King is on the right track with his amendment. The King amendment is a security measure to protect against, and block, HSUS and other animal rights groups from creating a montage of similar laws all across the nation, making it next to impossible for producers to keep up with compliance,” stated Protect the Harvest.  “If California’s liberal imperialists want to impose their social and economic agenda on the rest of the country, they have to go through Congress. Sacramento isn’t the capitol of America, thank heavens,” said the Wall Street Journal.


HSUS and other groups are, as a result, entering into the Farm Bill debate with wings flapping.  “It’s one of the most destructive and far-reaching anti-animal welfare provisions we’ve seen in decades,” Wayne Pacelle, the President and CEO of the HSUS, tells TIME. “It could nullify laws to crack down on extreme confinement of animals on factory farms, on standards for puppy mills, on prohibitions on the sale of shark fins and much more.”


Like much of what Pacelle says, this prediction is not likely to come true. I spoke with Indiana State Veterinarian Dr. Bret Marsh and asked if the King amendment would override Indiana’s very specific and science-based animal welfare regulations. He said it would not. He went on to say regulations in most other states would also not likely be impacted by the King amendment. Furthermore, he said there is a national oversight organization made up of veterinarians and animal care experts who monitor and review standards in different states.  While the activists would like to have you believe they have cornered the market on animal care, the reality is that animal care and livestock production standards are (in most states) under the  control of local experts and veterinarians .


While there is plenty of chicken manure around about the King amendment, there are a few basic facts to keep in mind:


  • The eggs you enjoy today do not come from tortured birds. While they may not live in 2 story condos with cable TV, they are not being horribly abused as advocated by the activists.


  • The defeat of the King amendment would lead to higher egg prices for all of us. It would also set a precedent that activists would likely use to impact agricultural food production in other areas.


  • Adoption of the King amendment will not lead to animal abuse and will not override a state’s right to impose animal care regulations in its own state.


Over 200 members of the House and Senate have signed a HSUS sponsored letter denouncing the King amendment. While there is considerable support in the House for the measure, strong agricultural support is needed.  Passage of the King measure would be a legislative setback for the radical activists, something that is long overdue.


By Gary Truitt