Saturday, 20 October 2012

Humane Society hatches bid to unseat Iowa lawmaker

WASHINGTON (AP) — Rep. Steve King of Iowa has little use for the Humane Society, particularly when it comes to laws designed to give calves, pregnant sows and hens a little more freedom on the farm.
The organization's political arm is devoting the vast majority of its campaign budget this year — nearly $500,000 so far — to ensuring King doesn't return for a sixth term.
The Humane Society Legislative Fund calls its campaign Stop the King of Cruelty. Its ads take King to task for his opposition to bills related to dogfighting and requiring emergency management offices to account for pets and service dogs in their preparedness plans.
"He has made himself the self-appointed leader to oppose animal welfare laws in the House of Representatives," Michael Markarian, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, said of the conservative Iowa congressman. "He routinely speaks against animal protection policies and tries to defeat them."
King's campaign says the Humane Society is going after him because he's an effective advocate for the state's farmers.
"The (Humane Society) and their legislative fund has a clear agenda of passing more burdensome government regulations down to America's farmers and Congressman King has been particularly effective in working to get government out of the way and allow the Iowa ag industry to produce," said campaign spokesman Jimmy Centers.
The Humane Society's ads focus on pets but don't address the clashes they've had with King on farming issues. Iowa is by far the largest egg-producing state in the nation, and King's district plays a big role in that distinction. King led the effort this past summer to scuttle efforts that a few states are making to increase the quality and size of cages for hens.
California has been a leader in the effort. The California Legislature approved a bill that extends more expansive cage requirements to all eggs sold in California, regardless of where the eggs are produced. Iowa produces about 30 percent of the eggs purchased in California.
King successfully included in the House farm bill a measure that would bar California and other states from essentially exporting their cage standards to agricultural producers in Iowa. King says that California's law violates the clause in the Constitution that gives Congress the power to regulate commerce among the states.

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