California can keep its strict animal welfare standards after all under a long-awaited farm bill finished by congressional negotiators early Monday evening.
As they wrapped up the overdue legislation, lawmakers dropped a controversial House provision that would have blocked California and other states from imposing stricter animal confinement rules. The decision clears the way for more California lawmakers to support the multi-billion dollar bill that funds both crop subsidies and food stamps.
"This is a victory for state's rights," Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., declared Monday, adding that that the omitted animal welfare provision "would have led to a race to the bottom for agriculture production laws nationwide...and imperiled the fate of California egg producers."
Two years late, the farm bill now set for House approval on Wednesday spans 959 pages and authorizes myriad agriculture, conservation, research and nutrition programs. Once a relatively routine legislative exercise conducted every five years, this latest farm bill has until now stymied House Republicans who had initially pushed for much steeper cuts in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps.
The final farm bill cuts the supplemental feeding program by roughly $8 billion over 10 years, compared to a $39 billion cut originally passed by House Republicans. The savings primarily come from tightening a current system that has tied nutrition program eligibility to receipt of a very small amount of fuel aid.
"We're still providing support for those who are most in need," Rep. Jim Costa, D-Calif., said Monday. "I think, given all the difficulties we've faced, and while there are things I wish were different, that this bill seems like something I can support."