Battling Unfair Limits on Trade

Some of our nation’s best trading partners have the nasty habit of protecting select industries of their own by virtually locking out competition from the United States. The European Union’s ban on hormone-treated beef from the United States is an example. Usually, such blatant unfair trade strategies are justified by claims they are meant to safeguard the health of those in the protectionist country.

Welcome to being victimized by the method, fellow West Virginians. The culprit? The EU? Japan? China?

Massachusetts.

Yes, the Bay State.

Eggs, pork and veal from Mountain State farms and processors are enjoyed by people in many other states. Those involved in commercial agriculture here understand they must produce quality, safe products if they are to remain in business – and, not incidentally, comply with stringent state and federal rules.

But our eggs, pork and veal cannot be sold in Massachusetts unless the livestock are housed according to Bay State regulations adopted in 2016. The rules prohibit sale of any products from pigs, calves and hens that have ever been confined in spaces that prevent an animal from “lying down, standing up, fully extending its limbs, or turning around freely.

Obviously, voters in Massachusetts approved the rules for humanitarian reasons. Still, they are a restraint of trade – banned by the U.S. Constitution.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and officials in 12 other states have joined in a lawsuit challenging enforcement of the Massachusetts law.

Massachusetts residents have every right to enforce agriculture rules that affect only their state. But their attempt to ban imports from other states is the kind of unfair trade restriction Americans rightly object to from other countries. It should not be permitted within our borders, either.

COMMENTS