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House Agriculture Committee Members Welcome Legislation to Protect America's Food

House Agriculture Committee Members Welcome Legislation to Protect America's Food

WASHINGTON- House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Chairman Filemon Vela, Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Chairman Jim Costa, and Committee Members Cindy Axne, Salud Carbajal, Josh Harder, and TJ Cox welcomed the passage of the Protecting America’s Food & Agriculture Act of 2019. The legislation, which passed under suspension of the rules today, authorizes the funding needed to hire new Customs and Border Agriculture Inspectors to ensure an adequately prepared staff inspecting food, and providing defense against foreign animal and plant pests and diseases at U.S. ports of entry.

“I know how vital CBP personnel and the work they perform are for the protection and growth of our trade and agricultural sectors,” said Rep.Vela. “Texas farms alone sold $24.9 billion in agricultural products in 2017, but those economic gains are threatened when our international ports of entry do not have the resources to mitigate pest and disease threats, like the African Swine Fever. The Protecting America’s Food and Agriculture Act of 2019 authorizes the hiring of 240 new Agriculture Specialists and 200 Agriculture Technicians until staffing shortages are resolved. It also provides for the assignment of 20 Agriculture Canine Teams to prevent the introduction of harmful pests and foreign animal disease from entering the United States. I am honored to have introduced the Protecting America’s Food and Agriculture Act of 2019 in the House of Representatives, with support from both sides of the aisle, and to have worked in partnership with Senator Peters to ensure this legislation gets signed into law.” 

“I’ve long raised the issue of staffing levels at the border. It is critical that we have enough CBP agriculture inspectors, specialists and canine teams to protect our rural communities and our economy from foreign animal and plant pests and diseases,” said Chairman Peterson. “I represent a border district, where agriculture is a top industry, and The Protecting America’s Food & Agriculture Act authorizes the crucial resources to help protect districts like mine.  Rural America can’t afford another disaster and we need to do everything we can to prevent these pests and diseases from impacting our farm and rural economies.”

“California’s ports of entry are the first line of defense against crop diseases and pests,” said Rep. Costa. “Ensuring proper training and staffing at our borders is crucial for maintaining the health of our agricultural industry and guaranteeing the quality of the food on our tables. I heard directly from impacted specialty crop growers on this issue at hearing I held last fall and am glad to see the measure become law.” 

 “Strong inspections and safe food mean healthier communities—that’s what this bipartisan bill is all about,” said Rep. Carbajal, “Ensuring we have a robust team of agriculture inspectors to safeguard our imports is a necessary step toward protecting our families and our agriculture industry. I’m proud to be an original co-sponsor on this bill, and I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to enhance food safety for the American people.”

“It’s critical that we ensure there are enough resources to protect our borders from animal diseases,” Rep. Axne said. “We’ve seen diseases such as African Swine Fever destroy hog populations throughout the world. Iowa leads the nation in pork production, raising nearly one-third of U.S. hogs. An outbreak here at home would be devastating to Iowa’s pork industry, which is an economic driver and job creator across the state. We must do all that we can to prevent an outbreak and I’m proud to have helped introduce this important legislation and look forward to seeing it signed into law.”

“The world is a lot smaller than it used to be, and we’ve got goods and people coming to our country from all over the world every single day. We have to make sure they’re not bringing in any invasive species that could hurt our agriculture communities, damage our ecosystems, and hurt our local economy,” said Rep. Harder. “The nutria swamp rat made a sudden reappearance in California after being gone for 50 years and it’s wreaking havoc. We need to get more personnel on the job to protect our ag economy and wildlife. That’s why this bill is so important.” 

“Risks from foreign pests and disease are a common concern brought to me by farmers and ranchers in my district," said Rep. Cox. "In order to remain one of the most agriculturally productive regions in the nation we must ensure our agricultural inspectors have the resources and support they need to keep our domestic food supply and agriculture industries safe and healthy.” 

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