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The Midterms Were a Mixed Bag for Food Freedom

We gained some food freedom, we lost some food freedom.

XAMAX/dpa/picture-alliance/NewscomXAMAX/dpa/picture-alliance/NewscomThis week's midterm elections, in case you missed the news, were the most important election of your lifetime. While the president, control of the House of Representatives, and Bigfoot erotica dominated national headlines during this ostensibly crucial election season, food-policy issues—my focus—were at the heart of several ballot measures and other contests around the country.

The most impactful food-policy ballot measures were decided up and down the West Coast.

In California, voters adopted Proposition 12, which will require egg producers within and without the state to go cage-free by 2022 and also impact pork and veal producers. The law is similar to a 2016 Massachusetts law that was, in turn, inspired by an earlier California law. (Litigation over these laws is ongoing.)

Several groups opposed Prop. 12, including PETA, which argued the measure did not go far enough. Various egg and pork producers opposed it by arguing in part, rightly, that the radical measure would raise food prices.

Despite its passage, Prop. 12 likely faces an uncertain future. The ongoing litigation over the Massachusetts and California livestock laws and over California's wrongheaded and unconstitutional foie gras ban—cases the U.S. Supreme Court should and may soon take up—could overturn portions of the law. The new California law is likely to put pressure on Congress to include provisions in the upcoming Farm Bill that would preempt these California and Massachusetts laws, among others.

That Farm Bill has been in the works for months now. With a divided Congress set to arrive in January, many farmers hope the current GOP Congress will pass the Farm Bill now, before Democrats take control of the House.

Though the bill will undoubtedly suck once passed—whichever party controls the House—its earlier passage might contain at least two positive provisions. There's the aforementioned preemption measure. And there's legalization of hemp farming, which appears to have a good chance to appear in any final Farm Bill. One of the chief advocates in Congress for legalizing hemp, James Comer (R-Ky.), won reelection. Vile scumbag Steve King (R-Iowa), who sponsored the farm bill, also survived a close House race this week.

Further up the coast from California, ballot measures that would restrict local governments from enacting food taxes in Oregon and Washington State, respectively, yielded decidedly different results. Voters in Oregon rejected Measure 103, which would have preempted local governments from enacting new food and beverage taxes, with a few exceptions (e.g., alcohol).

Also on Tuesday, Washington State voters—me included—chose to adopt a ban, Initiative 1634, similar to the one Oregon voters rejected. The ban is too little, too late for residents of Seattle, where I live, which last year adopted a soda tax that's grandfathered in under the new law. Though Washington State now joins California in adopting statewide preemption of local grocery and soda taxes, it's worth noting that efforts are already underway to place a measure on the 2020 California ballot that could tax soda statewide.

Food policy also played a key role in several other election-day contests around the country.

Alaska voters rejected a measure that would have strengthened salmon conservation, which opponents argued would kill jobs. Voters in farm country sent mixed signals to Members of Congress who supported the president's tariffs, which, as predicted, have had an outsized impact on farmers. Several were ousted, but others won reelection. And, in perhaps the quaintest of election-day food-policy news, voters in Perry County, Ky., a state still home to dry counties, split evenly (155-155) over a measure that would allow the sale of alcohol in Buckhorn Lake State Park. The vote came down to a coin toss. Alcohol sales—heads—prevailed.

So how does all this food-policy election news shake out? Did Americans gain or lose food freedom on Tuesday? This week's food-policy electoral results—like those from other contests and ballot measures—appear to be a mixed bag. But, given how important we're told this election was, I guess it's the most important mixed bag of your lifetime.

Photo Credit: XAMAX/dpa/picture-alliance/Newscom

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  • Remember to keep it all polit||

  • BigT||

    It certainly was the most important election of the day, and during the lives of all those aborted in the past few weeks.

    (mentions abortion to spark controversy)

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    It's been a while since we had an abortion talk. In the meantime, the libertarian solution to abortion has finally been derived from first principles, without any referenced to a priori values.

  • SQRLSY One||

    All these food-law do-gooders will end up with PETA getting mandatory veganism passed some day.

    I recall (but can not find right now) a "Ralph Waldo Emerson" quote, something along the lines of, "In matters of morality, government must follow, not lead"… I can't find it… Anyone know what it is? The closest I could find is only vaguely related…

    "All men plume themselves on the improvement of society, and no man improves."
    So anyway, suppose that Government Almighy goes too far, and mandates no-meat diets, which many people disagree with, just like the War on Drugs today…

    Then there will be underground, makeshift, amateurish animal-killing-and-butchering shops, where the animals will be treated far less humanely than they are today! (Thank You Do-Gooders!!!)
    You will not be able to let your cat or dog wander through the bushes in your own back yard, for fear of meat-hungry lawbreaking pet-snatchers!

    (But, Meat-Hungry Lawbreaking Pet-Snatchers would make an MOST EXCELLENT name for a garage band!)

  • SQRLSY One||

    OK, here are the closest matches I can find…

    When government - in pursuit of good intentions - tries to rearrange the economy, legislate morality, or help special interests, the cost come in inefficiency, lack of motivation, and loss of freedom. Government should be a referee, not an active player. Milton Friedman

    Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quo.....t_morality

    That's the closest match that I can find… Anyone else?

  • SQRLSY One||

    "It is useless for the sheep to pass resolutions in favor of vegetarianism while the wolf remains of a different opinion."
    William Ralph Inge (1860–1954)

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Not necessarily. It could motivate the sheep to organize into a defensive formation, like sperm whales do against orcas.

  • BigT||

    "All these food-law do-gooders will end up with PETA getting mandatory veganism passed some day."

    The church of global warming is already encroaching on meat eaters. Since the ethanol mandate was passed in 2009, and 30% of the corn crop now goes to fuel rather than beef cattle, the price of beef has risen about 50% in real terms.

    Meat won't get banned, but will become as available as it was in Commie Eastern Europe.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Yeah man, agreed, maybe lab-grown meats will come to the rescue some day, affordably...

    "All men plume themselves on the improvement of society, and no man improves."
    "Ralph Waldo Emerson"

    I like the above, it captures a LOT!

    If it makes you feel more moral than the rest of us, eat meat or not, eat only free-range chickens, or not, etc. OK by me!... But PLEASE do NOT try and impose your moral superiority over the rest of us!!! If maybe (???? I'd put it at...) 80% of the voters agree with you, then maybe it is time to move that way. For good or bad, the clear majority is gonna push us around a bit, with or without laws, anyway. Short of that... Un-intended consequences are gonna BITE US IN THE ASS!!!!

  • wnoise||

    In California, voters adopted Proposition 12, which will require egg producers within and without the state to go cage-free by 2022

    This is a lie. California does not reach out into other states, and send cops to arrest those that don't. That would indeed be a federalism violation, as well as violating the sovereignty of those other states.

    What it does do is specify minimum standards for selling eggs in California.

    You can argue about whether it is wise, whether it's narrowly tailed to its purported goal, and whether it has a protectionist effect. However, it doesn't require egg producers in other states do shit, anymore than California's automobile emission standards require automobile producers to do shit, or the California Prop 65 warning labels require producers of anything to do shit. Like all of these it requires goods sold in the state of California live up to certain standards.

    You can argue that it "has an effect on interstate commerce" -- but so does everything. That's the same logic that gave us Wickard v. Filburn, and it eventually extends to the states having no power and the federal government all.

  • Remember to keep it all polit||

    Help us carry this wise admonition into practice. Split California into pieces small enough that no piece has an influence on interstate commerce. Apply it to all states. Apply it maximally.

    In fact, apply it so thoroughly that the fundamental unit of control is the individual.

    Problem solved! Now if you,wise and benevolent know-it-all sir, will only assist us.

  • Slocum||

    It is not like Wickard v Filburn, this has a direct effect on interstate commerce. It does not regulate heath and safety standards for eggs, but rather how eggs must be produced out-of-state if they are to be sold in California. If that's legit, do you think California could also require, for example, that all products sold in the must be produced by union labor? Or by workers earning at least $15/hr? Or using 100% renewable power? These would all be (correctly) viewed as non-tariff barriers to interstate trade. And note that California's ability to regulate auto emission standards is permitted only by an explicit waiver from the Feds (which Trump admin has threatened not to renew).

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Vile scumbag Steve King (R-Iowa)

    Why alienate much of reason.com's current audience by disparaging King-style white nationalism?

  • Rorschach||

    Racist leftard is a racist leftard.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Goddamnit, all this talk of Bigfoot erotica had made me curious.

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  • Rorschach||

    Did anybody notice the egg carton in that stock photo has only ten slots for eggs?

  • Untermensch den 2||

    Probably a Euro egg carton. They sell them by tens there.

  • Untermensch den 2||

    Do all of Linnekin's articles take the "mixed bag" approach? I'm trying to think of any that don't.

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