The Farm Bill, a legislative package the U.S. Congress approves every five years or so to govern agricultural and food programs, has the potential to instill animal welfare and sustainability into food practices for years to come. Instead, the 2024 Farm Bill just approved in the House Agriculture Committee would undo so much progress made for animal welfare, threaten public health and create a nightmare for countless animals.  

Drafted under the leadership of House Agriculture Chair Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., the bill grants special favors to low-welfare pork producers, puppy millers and mink factory farmers. In a moment of great need for the country, Thompson has given a handout to some of the least reputable special-interest groups in American life. 

We begin with Thompson’s language to nullify Proposition 12, considered the nation’s strongest law on farm animal welfare, and similar measures in other states. Proposition 12 is the groundbreaking ballot initiative that was voted into law by a wide margin and was later upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court after the pork industry lobby filed legal challenges. Producers who built their profitable businesses on cruel gestation crates—metal cages so small the pigs can’t even turn around—don't feel like following consumer and marketplace demand for more humane approaches. So, they went to Thompson for a hall pass dictated by the National Pork Producers Council. Rather than ensuring a healthier and more humane food supply, this version of the Farm Bill works against the will of voters and state legislatures.

In the months leading up to this moment, it has been stunning to observe Thompson’s utter disregard for the voices of family farmers, citizens and pork producers from around the nation. Those voices have included many from Pennsylvania, his home state, where the entire Democratic and Republican congressional delegations have either opposed or been silent on the need for a “fix” to Proposition 12 and laws like it. Whoever he’s representing, it’s not the people and responsible farmers of the Keystone State.