Animal Wellness Action condemns the passage of an agricultural bill that undermines states’ rights and shows disregard for animal welfare

Animal welfare groups say China’s EATS (CHEATS) Act is a giveaway to America’s global rival that will double down on inhumane treatment of pigs.


Washington, DC – Wayne Pacelle criticized Republican leaders in the House of Representatives for moving forward with a partisan farm bill, H.R. 8467, the Farm, Food, and National Security Act of 2024, labeling it an attack on states’ rights and ignoring it of common sense animal welfare reforms.

“The Agriculture Committee leadership has reiterated for months that it would advance a bipartisan bill, but it included a provision of the EATS Act that did not have a single Democratic co-sponsor in the House of Representatives or the Senate.” said Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action and the Center for a Humane Economy.

“The only bipartisan thing about that bill is the opposition to it, with more than 150 Democrats and 26 Republicans taking the remarkable step of signing letters urging the chairman not to include it,” he said.

Pacelle was a key architect of both Proposition 12, Question 3, and all previous successful statewide farm animal welfare ballot measures. The ballot measures banned cages and crates that immobilize animals for months and years at a time and that the American public, in all aspects of public opinion, opposes.

“Prop 12 and similar measures are not orthodox animal rights policy,” Pacelle said. “These are very basic animal care measures that simply give animals a modest amount of space to move around.”

Could a version of China's 26-story, high-rise pig farm be coming to the US soon?  Image courtesy of the author.
Could a version of China’s 26-story, high-rise pig farm be coming to the US soon? Image courtesy of the author.

“No farmer in Iowa, Kansas or any other state will have to invest in new housing systems because the pork industry already has the capacity to meet demand for pork from gestation-crate-free housing systems in California and Massachusetts.Pacelle added. “The argument that Iowa pork producers need to change their ways because of Prop 12 has been 100 percent bogus from the start.”

Key points include:

  • A diversifying swine industry has been transitioning from the use of gestation crates for two decades (beginning with a ballot measure in Florida that banned gestation crates), and now nearly 50% of sows live in group housing. This easily exceeds the 6% market share in gestation-free pork production required by California and Massachusetts.
  • California’s Prop 12 and Massachusetts’s Question 3 exempt processed, frozen and combined pork products, which represent 42% of pork sales to those states.
  • Including domestic and foreign markets, 187 of 189 markets (48 states and 139 pork importing countries) remain fully available for conventional pork from animals kept in extreme confinement. There are no laws banning gestation crates in 94% of the current markets accessed by the U.S. pork industry.

Thousands of small and larger pork producers — including Clemens Food Group (the fifth-largest pork processor in the U.S.) and Niman Ranch (a single cooperative of about 700 farmers) — oppose the CHEATS Act. Many pork producers developed more extensive housing systems to supply California and Massachusetts when their ballot measures passed years ago (each had a multi-year phase-in). There are already 1,266 producers serving the California market, and they depend on the continued implementation of Prop 12. Producers from Iowa to Ohio and Pennsylvania oppose CHEATS.

The CHEATS Act is a giveaway for China, which already controls 26% of U.S. pork sales (after America’s biggest global rival acquired Smithfield Foods thanks to a $5 billion loan to the Bank of China’s Wuhan Group). China could bring its 25-story pork factory skyscrapers to America if key state laws are overturned by Congress. The CHEATS Act is an attempt to undermine state elections, coming just months after a conservative US Supreme Court upheld Prop 12 and similar laws as a proper and constitutional exercise of state authority.

There have been three House letters opposing the measure, with 200 lawmakers, including 26 Republicans, declaring their opposition to the CHEATS Act and its derivatives: a bipartisan letter with 171 House signatories in August 2023, a Republican letter with 16 signatories of the House in October 2023 and a Republican letter with ten signatories from the House of Representatives in March 2024.

Policies against animal fighting, greyhound racing and horse slaughter are ignored by the chairman of the Agriculture Committee

Animal welfare advocates are also disappointed that many animal welfare policies were left out of the bill and would have been an obvious choice to include in the legislation.

The most bipartisan animal welfare bill of the 118th Congress, the FIGHT Act (HR 2742), would strengthen enforcement of laws in every state and territory against the barbaric, criminal enterprise of cock and dog fighting and provide protection against dangerous avian diseases that plague America’s poultry to threaten. industries. This bill is under the committee’s jurisdiction and contains an explicit USDA jurisdiction element. With nearly 120 bipartisan cosponsors and more than 550 statements of support from stakeholders in law enforcement, commercial poultry, gaming, and animal welfare, the FIGHT Act deserves inclusion in the Farm Bill.

Also left out was the Greyhound Protection Act (HR 3894), a bipartisan measure to end gambling on live and simulcast greyhound racing, which was also supposed to be included in the bill. Even the company that owns the only two remaining greyhound tracks in the United States is not opposed to this legislation.

Another policy the groups said deserved inclusion was the SAFE Act (HR 3475), which would ban the slaughter of horses and other equines for human consumption. This bill codifies a long-standing U.S. ban on horse slaughter, enforced through a funding cap that has been implemented annually for more than fifteen years. The committee should have taken the opportunity to codify a federal policy to eliminate a small, disreputable business. An anti-slaughter amendment passed the House without dissent in the 117th Congress, but ultimately did not become law.

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Animal welfare campaign is a Washington, DC-based 501(c)(4) whose mission is to help animals by advancing federal, state and local laws and regulations that prohibit cruelty to all animals. The group also works to enforce existing anti-cruelty and conservation laws. Animal Wellness Action believes that helping animals helps us all. X: @AWAction_News

The Center for a Human Economy is a Washington, DC-based 501(c)(3) whose mission is to help animals by helping forge a more humane economic order. The first organization of its kind in the animal protection movement, the Center encourages companies to meet their social responsibilities in a culture where consumers, investors and other key stakeholders abhor cruelty and environmental degradation and embrace innovation as a means to combat both. to eliminate. . The Center believes that helping animals helps us all. X: @HetHumaneCenter