The House of Representatives is debating a controversial bill to allow states to enact restrictions on the sale of pork to animals, despite the fact that President Donald Trump signed a federal law banning the practice.
On Wednesday, the House Agriculture Committee approved a bill that would allow states and localities to prohibit the slaughter of pork byproducts by 2016, while preserving the sale and distribution of the meat to people who want to eat it.
The legislation has bipartisan support, with Rep. Bob Latta (R-Philadelphia) calling it “the first bipartisan legislation in Pennsylvania since the 1980s to ban the practice of commercial pork slaughter.”
Under the bill, states and cities that want to ban commercial pork may pass their own laws.
If they do not, the federal law takes effect and bans the sale or distribution of pork from any state.
If a state or city passes a ban, it can use a local ordinance to ban pork sales, including those in private establishments, within the city limits.
The bill, however, is likely to face opposition from many farmers and food companies who are opposed to the ban.
In March, the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau and other organizations sued the Trump administration over the ban, saying it infringes on their First Amendment rights to free speech and assembly.
In response to the lawsuit, the Trump Administration announced it would not appeal a ruling from a federal appeals court that upheld the ban on the federal level.
In its decision, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in Philadelphia, said that “the Trump Administration’s argument that the State’s proposed ban is ‘legally unnecessary and unreasonable’ ignores its own decisions that the ban is unconstitutionally overbroad.”
While the federal ban is not unconstitutional, the decision by the Ninth is the first time a federal judge has held a state law unconstitutional, and is likely a turning point in the pork debate in the Pennsylvania House, where the bill is currently being considered.
The ban, if approved, would also be the first in the country to ban federal pork sales.
The House passed the legislation last month.
The meat industry has been in a state of crisis since the Trump era, with companies like Tyson Foods and Tyson Foods Canada announcing that they were pulling out of the Pennsylvania market.
President Trump in January signed the federal Pork Producers Protection Act into law, which requires federal pork producers to submit annual reports to the Department of Agriculture outlining the number of animals slaughtered and the total number of live animals sold.
The law is meant to protect U.S. producers, but many meat and poultry companies have been pushing back against it, arguing that it will hurt their bottom lines.
In recent months, a coalition of food and agriculture groups have filed lawsuits challenging the federal pork ban, arguing it is a federal overreach that will hurt state and local governments that are struggling to feed the nation’s growing populations.