Action Needed

Urge your members of Congress to oppose the Ending Agricultural Trade Suppression Act (H.R. 4417/S.2019) and the Agricultural Labeling Uniformity Act (H.R. 4288) to protect local authority and decision-making on agricultural production, food safety and pesticide use. Counties oppose these bills and any efforts to incorporate them into the 2024 Farm Bill.

Background

County governments have historically exercised authorities guaranteed under the 10th Amendment to address specific local needs not met by federal laws and regulations. As the government closest to the people, county officials understand the unique needs of our communities and are empowered to act to protect the safety and wellbeing of our residents, a cornerstone of the intergovernmental partnership between county, state and federal governments. The Ending Agricultural Trade Suppression (EATS) Act and the Agricultural Labeling Uniformity Act would threaten this relationship by preempting state and local regulatory authority.  

Supporters of the EATS Act and the Agricultural Labeling Uniformity Act are currently working to include the bills in the 2024 Farm Bill. Such an action would represent a serious threat to the sovereignty of county governments. 

Ending Agricultural Trade Suppression (EATS) Act of 2023

H.R.4417, sponsored by Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa)/S.2019, sponsored by Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.)

The EATS Act would prohibit state and local governments from establishing laws and standards on any agricultural products produced in another state and sold in interstate commerce. The EATS Act would also grant private parties the ability to legally challenge any state or local law that regulates any aspect of agricultural products that are sold in interstate commerce, potentially imposing excessive burdens on county resources, as an increase in frivolous legal action is bound to escalate legal costs for county governments.

The authority of local and state governments to impose standards and conditions on the sale of agricultural products has been upheld by decades of legal precedent at the federal level. This bill would radically restrict the authority of county governments to protect our nation’s food supply and consumers within our jurisdictions.

Agricultural Labeling Uniformity Act of 2023

H.R. 4288, sponsored by Reps. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) and Jim Costa (D-Calif.)

The Agricultural Labeling Uniformity Act (H.R. 4288) would prohibit local and state governments from enacting pesticide laws that are more protective than federal regulations.

Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency oversees the registration, distribution, sale and use of pesticides in the United States. These regulations have long been considered by Congress and the Courts as a minimum standard for our nation’s pesticide laws. Therefore, county, municipal and state governments currently have the authority to enact more stringent standards for pesticide use, and many have done so to protect residents, animals and the environment based on community input and local needs. 

Currently, hundreds of counties across the country set standards for pesticides that go beyond FIFRA, including restricting pesticide use around schools and parks, protecting drinking water supplies and implementing safety guidelines for workers. Federal preemption of county authority could result in an immediate removal of such protections for communities across the country and put residents at risk.

Key Talking Points

  • The Ending Agricultural Trade Suppression (EATS) Act of 2023 (H.R. 4417/S.2019) and the Agricultural Labeling Uniformity Act (H.R. 4288) would diminish county authority to enact laws and regulations which ensure the safety of our residents. Counties oppose these bills and any efforts to incorporate them into the 2024 Farm Bill.
  • As they are closest to the ground, local authorities are best able to address the specific needs of residents based on local circumstances. It is also the traditional role of local officials to protect and maintain the safety and general welfare of residents.
  • County governments must be allowed to continue to exercise authority to enact laws that defend residents from threats such as invasive pests or livestock diseases.

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