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U.S. Senate and House negotiators got on the same page Monday to iron out differences between two differing bills the chambers previously passed relating to multi-year agricultural policies.

In that process, the negotiators stripped out an amendment that U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, had placed in the House bill to ban state governments from enacting laws that put conditions on how agricultural goods and livestock are raised within the state's borders for sale in other states.

King's amendment was in response to California legislation that would require egg-laying hens be housed in larger cages by 2015, and that any eggs sold in the state meet the same rule.

In December King told the Journal he’s not willing to give up on his amendment.

"Their law happens to be unconstitutional," King said. "They have zero right to regulate the producers in other states. ... We cannot start trade wars between the states and have a patchwork quilt."

Conferees said there was considerable opposition to King's amendment. Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee Frank Lucas, a Republican from Oklahoma, didn't defend King's amendment.

According to the Fresno Bee, U.S. Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., said the King's animal welfare provision "would have led to a race to the bottom for agriculture production laws nationwide...and imperiled the fate of California egg producers."

King's office did not immediately respond Tuesday for a request for comment.

The bipartisan accord covering five years now goes back to both chambers for final passage.

In a release, U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, said the bill includes major reforms like eliminating the direct payment subsidy program, streamlining and consolidating other programs, and cracking down on fraud and misuse.

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County and education reporter

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