Press Release

Animal Wellness Action Condemns Passage of Farm Bill That Guts States’ Rights and Shows Contempt for Animal Welfare

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

Washington, D.C. — Today, Wayne Pacelle criticized House Republican leaders for charging ahead 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 disregarding common-sense animal welfare reforms.

“The leadership of the Agriculture Committee for months has kept repeating that it would present a bipartisan bill, but it included an EATS Act provision that did not have a single Democrat cosponsor in either the House or the Senate,” said Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action and the Center for a Humane Economy.

“The only thing bipartisan about that bill is the opposition to it, with more than 150 Democrats and 26 Republicans taking the notable 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 earlier successful statewide farm-animal welfare ballot measures. The ballot measures outlawed cages and crates that immobilize animals for months and years at a time and that the American public, in every measure of public opinion opposes.

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

“Not a single farmer in Iowa, Kansas, or any other state will need to invest in new housing systems, because the pork industry already has capacity to accommodate demand for pork from gestation-crate-free housing systems in California and Massachusetts,” added Pacelle. “The argument that Iowa pork producers have to change their ways because of Prop 12 has been 100-percent phony from the start.”

Key points include:

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

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

The CHEATS Act is a giveaway to 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 Wuhan Group from the Bank of China). China could bring its 25-story-high pig-factory skyscrapers to America if key state laws are undone by Congress. The CHEATS Act is an attempt to subvert state elections just months after a conservative U.S. 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, stating their opposition to the CHEATS Act and its derivatives: a bipartisan letter with 171 House signers in August 2023, a Republican letter with 16 House signers in October 2023, and a Republican letter with 10 House signers in March 2024.

Animal Fighting, Greyhound Racing, and Horse Slaughter Policies Disregarded by Agriculture Committee Chairman

Animal welfare advocates are also disappointed by a host of animal-wellness policies omitted from the bill that would have been obvious choices for inclusion in the legislation.

The most bipartisan animal welfare bill in the 118th Congress, the FIGHT Act (H.R. 2742), would strengthen enforcement of laws in every state and territory against the barbaric, criminal enterprise of cockfighting and dogfighting and provide a hedge against dangerous avian diseases threatening America’s poultry industries. This bill is in the Committee’s jurisdiction and contains an explicit USDA jurisdictional element. With nearly 120 bipartisan co-sponsors and more than 550 endorsements from stakeholders in law enforcement, commercial poultry, gaming, and animal welfare, the FIGHT Act merits inclusion in the Farm Bill.

Also omitted was the Greyhound Protection Act (H.R. 3894), a bipartisan measure to stop gambling on live and simulcast greyhound racing, also merited inclusion in the bill. Even the company that owns the only two remaining greyhound tracks in the United States does not oppose this legislation.

Another policy the groups believe merited inclusion was the SAFE Act (H.R. 3475), which would ban the slaughter of horses and other equines for human consumption. This bill codifies a longstanding U.S. ban on horse slaughter applied through a funding limitation put in place annually for more than 15 years. The committee should have taken the opportunity to codify a federal policy to eliminate a small, disreputable enterprise. An anti-slaughter amendment passed the House in the 117th Congress without dissent, but ultimately failed to become law.

Center for a Humane Economy is a Washington, D.C.-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 businesses to honor their social responsibilities in a culture where consumers, investors, and other key stakeholders abhor cruelty and the degradation of the environment and embrace innovation as a means of eliminating both. The Center believes helping animals helps us all. Twitter: @TheHumaneCenter

Animal Wellness Action is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(4) whose mission is to help animals by promoting laws and regulations at federal, state and local levels that forbid cruelty to all animals. The group also works to enforce existing anti-cruelty and wildlife protection laws. Animal Wellness Action believes helping animals helps us all. Twitter: @AWAction_News