Agriculture and Food Safety (June 2009)

Far from a jungle, but not completely tamed

More than a century ago, Upton Sinclair’s novel The Jungle shocked Americans with its lurid descriptions of filth and squalor in Chicago’s meatpacking plants. Responding to the public outcry, Congress and President Theodore Roosevelt quickly enacted the Federal Meat Inspection Act in 1906. This law, in tandem with the Pure Food Act of 1906, dramatically improved conditions in slaughterhouses and processing plants, and restored Americans’ confidence in the safety of their food supply. Today, more than a century later, it is time to reform and modernize America’s food safety system, once again.

Congress, EPA threaten biofuels

More than two decades ago, when I would talk about renewable fuels, people thought I was nuts. Now ethanol is blended into all American gasoline to help it burn cleaner, and renewable fuels provide an unparalleled opportunity to create new jobs, decrease pollution and revitalize rural America. Unfortunately, policy decisions made by Congress and the administration threaten the future viability of the renewable energy industry.

Obama’s budget is bitter harvest

“Fiscal responsibility.” It is a common phrase touted from the halls of Congress to the Sunday talk-show circuit to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., but rarely ever achieved in Washington these days. Nearly a year ago, Congress passed a new farm bill by overwhelming margins — legislation that was three years in the making. Anyone that participated in the farm bill debate last year knows that it was not an easy undertaking. The farm bill adhered to fiscal responsibility and achieved what few pieces of legislation did last Congress: It did not add to the federal deficit.

Keep FDA authority out of farm practices

America enjoys the world’s safest, highest quality, most abundant, diverse and affordable food supply. This claim is validated every day when Americans and visitors to our country enjoy and are sustained by the daily consumption of more than 1 billion meals and snacks.

Waxman-Markey measure portends devastating results

On a recent stop in Illinois to explain the Department of Agriculture’s role in rural America, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told a group of 200 that when it comes to a cap-and-trade program “we ought not to be fearful of this future. We ought to embrace it.”