Policymaking should be grounded in sound science. When politics becomes the primary consideration, the end result is almost always harmful. We have seen this phenomenon play out in many areas with detrimental results for our economy and security.
The recent manufactured controversy over lean, finely textured beef, for example, began with a baseless media scare which has been devastating to the beef production industry. Even while this beef has an impeccable safety record, it has been reported more than 650 workers in three states have been temporarily laid off and, according to the National Meat Association, as many as 3,000 American jobs have been affected by the misinformation and manufactured hysteria.
Legislation introduced earlier this year to give the federal government control over on-farm production practices is another example of politics trumping sound science. I would argue, you the producer, along with veterinarians and animal care experts, know more about the needs of your operation than bureaucrats in Washington. Representing cattle country, I fully appreciate your commitment to product safety and humane practices. It’s simple, really: producing high quality products depends on comfortable, healthy animals.
Beef production supports more than 1.4 million jobs in the U.S. and is the number one industry in my home state of Nebraska. Cattle are produced in all 50 states and their economic impact contributes to virtually every locale in the country, driving the economies of rural communities like those in Nebraska’s Third District.
In order to further my commitment to science-based agriculture policy, I currently serve as chairman of the bipartisan Modern Agriculture Caucus. Recently, the caucus hosted a briefing along with NCBA and your President, J.D. Alexander, to educate congressional staff about how farmers and ranchers care for their livestock and poultry. Ensuring policymakers have the right information is critical if we are to preserve America’s vibrant agricultural sector.
Pursuing strong, science-based standards also has been a top priority for me on the House Ways and Means Committee where I have been working on a bipartisan basis to open new export markets for producers, while removing barriers with our existing trade partners.
All too often, foreign governments have unfairly blocked U.S beef products based on arbitrary guidelines. It is vital science determines the import standards for U.S. producers. As the Ways and Means Committee continues to work on new and stronger trade relationships like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, I will continue to ensure our farmers and ranchers are not put at a competitive disadvantage by non-tariff and unscientific trade barriers.
America’s beef producers continue to demonstrate they are dedicated to providing the highest quality, safest, and most affordable food in the world. Ultimately we must together ensure agriculture policy is driven by facts and not political ideology. The continued success of agriculture, and in turn the long term safety and security of our nation’s food supply, depends on our unwavering commitment to science.
Source: U.S. Representative Adrian Smith (R-Neb.)