When Congress takes up its version of the Farm Bill later this month, members should take a long, hard look at an amendment by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, that might threaten the rights of states, California included, to enforce animal cruelty protections.

Critics of the bill's controversial provision, who include Democratic representatives Jim Costa of Fresno and John Garamendi of Walnut Grove and Republican Jeff Denham of Turlock, believe the language might strip states of their ability to apply their own animal protection laws, including those that address factory farm confinement, shark finning and horse slaughter.

At least two laws passed by California voters could be nullified, according to the Humane Society of the United States, which opposes the King amendment but not the bill in its entirety. California's Proposition 2, banning extreme crate confinement of animals, and Proposition 6, which forbids the sale of horses for slaughter and human consumption, are at risk of invalidation by a federal law that supercedes, critics say.

The Senate version of the bill does not contain provisions that would threaten or invalidate state animal protection laws.

We share the view that passage of a Farm Bill is necessary and long overdue. But Congress must carefully consider and weigh the impact on existing state laws, and to overrule any provisions that would unnecessarily invalidate the will of California voters or those of any state.