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Agriculture
  • Chuck Grassley Eats More Meat

    Earlier this week, the Agriculture Department errantly posted a statement on its website encouraging its employees not to eat meat on Mondays. The post was part of a newsletter discussing how USDA staffers can adopt a more sustainable lifestyle, presumably to counteract all the USDA policies that are responsible for degrading the environment in the first place.

    In any case, this "meatless Mondays" crusade isn't going to work. Nor is a pro-equality boycott of Chick-fil-A going to do much good as long Senator Chuck Grassley is around. For every cow, chicken and pig you fail to eat, Grassley will eat three servings…

    Maybe we can abolish the USDA entirely and let Grassley be a one man price support system for the entire agriculture Saturday. Sure, his More Meat Mondays may eventually transform into Sclerosis Saturdays, but at least we'll save Congress the trouble of compromising on a farm bill.


    Tags: Agriculture, Chuck Grassley
  • John McCain and the Porky Feral Pigs

    If anyone understands humor, it's John McCain. That's why when he recently sent out a string of tweets listing the ten most ridiculous Farm Bill pork barrel projects, number six was the issue of feral pigs. In case you're not following, pork comes from pigs. See, this is why Arizona elected John McCain State Comedian.

    The problem is feral pigs actually are a huge issue for farmers, much more so than some of the other projects, like a provision to help the popcorn industry. What a waste. Want to save popcorn? Start a recycling program for movie theatre floor droppings.

    In case you think this is a joke, here are the numbers

    Feral pigs cause about $400 million in property damage each year in Texas along. The national figure is much higher. Mississippi State's wild pig information site notes that a "conservative estimate of the cost of wild pig damage to agriculture and the environment in the United States currently stands at $1.5 billion annually." That's like three Solyndras! Feral pigs spread diseases, they're bad for business (especially if you own a farm or a golf course), and they're bad for just about any species that's not a feral pig because they're a non-native invasive species. They're also pretty big polluters.

    Not so funny, eh? John McCain may have a great sense of humor, but he was elected to solve problems, not make jokes. That's where I come in. But while I'm at it, here's a solution as well: Subsidize the bacon-flavored popcorn industry.

    You're welcome, John McCain. You're welcome, farmers.

    Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images News/Getty Images


    Tags: Agriculture, Arizona, John McCain, Senate
  • Mitt Romney's Campaign Is Funded by Pink Slime

    As a fabulously rich man, Mitt Romney could bankroll his own presidential campaign. But, like most candidates, he's getting cash funneled to him through Super PACs run by equally fabulously rich men.

    If this all seems a little slimey, it should. Romney's funds are literally coming from slime

    The company at the center of a national controversy over ammonia-treated beef byproducts — known in the media as "pink slime" — is headed by a major donor to Mitt Romney's political action committees.

    Beef Products Inc., which has suspended operations at several plants due to criticism of its products, was founded by Eldon Roth – a prominent Midwestern businessman who has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to pro-Romney groups.

    Roth hosted a fundraiser for Romney in Sioux Falls last fall, according to the Associated Press. And the Washington Post reported last year that Roth and his wife, Regina, cut $190,000 in checks to Romney's network of state-level PACs in 2010.

    Mmm. Ammonia-treated cow trimmings. Just like Mom used to make… and then get cancer from. Nothing says America like a big slab of low-grade texturized beef-like product.

    Knowing Santorum, he'll probably just attack Romney because the slime is pink.

    Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images News/Getty Images


    Tags: Agriculture, Food, Health, Mitt Romney, Money, Primaries, Republicans, Super PACs
  • Mean Judge Forces FDA to Remove Delicious Antibiotics from Meat

    CowWhat's better than a tasty slab of USDA prime American beef? Nothing, except a slab of USDA prime American beef flavor-blasted with antibiotics.

    But now, thanks to a federal judge, the flavor party's over

    A federal judge on Thursday ordered regulators to start proceedings to withdraw approval for the use of common antibiotics in animal feed, citing concerns that overuse is endangering human health by creating antibiotic-resistant "superbugs."

    U.S. Magistrate Judge Theodore Katz ordered the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to begin proceedings unless makers of the drugs can produce evidence that their use is safe…

    The FDA had started such proceedings in 1977, prompted by its concerns the widespread use in livestock feed of certain antibiotics – particularly tetracyclines and penicillin, the most common. But the proceedings were never completed and the approval remained in place.

    According to the New York Times, the FDA never followed through on its initial decision to ban the use of antibiotics in animal feed due to pressure from Congress. Based on their expert knowledge of microbiology gleaned from years of studying law and campaigning for public office, congressmen didn't see the harm in destroying mankind's entire defense against disease.

    It's still unclear why politicians wanted to pump livestock full of drugs in the first place. Perhaps they thought Americans wouldn't eat infected meat. I guess they've never been to a fast food restaurant.

    Photo by Antoine Antoniol/Getty Images News/Getty Images


    Tags: Agriculture, Animals, FDA, Food, Health, Judiciary, Laws
  • House of Representatives Blocks Mythical Farm Dust Rules

    It's a tough life being a member of Congress. Not only do you have to debate legislation that affects the real world – the payroll tax, the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline, the extension of unemployment benefits — under the current leadership, you also have to worry about invisible pink unicorns, Griffins, and fictional Environmental Protection Agency regulations

    The House on Thursday approved legislation Republicans said was aimed at ensuring the EPA cannot regulate so-called 'farm dust.' The Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act, H.R. 1633, which would prevent the EPA from issuing any new rule over the next year that regulates coarse particulate matter, or 'nuisance dust,' passed in a 268-150 vote…

    The bill is a reaction to the possibility that the EPA might issue a new rule that affects farmers. Republicans have cited that possibility all year as an example of overreach by the EPA. A statement from EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson earlier this year that the agency now has no plans to issue any such rule did not deter Republicans from pushing ahead with the bill, which they said would create certainty that no rule would come out.

    It's true that the EPA has had particulate-dust pollution standards since 1987, even imposing some related regulations under the green-hippie aegis of the Bush administration. But although the Clean Air Act mandates periodic review of these rules, the EPA has sworn that it has no plans to promulgate more dust regulations.

    Still, it's commendable for the House to think outside the box. Just think about all the other fake pressing issues deserving of congressional attention. I believe that for too long Leprechauns have used their shoemaking prowess to undermine the competiteveness of America's domestic textile manufacturing, all the while hoarding the world's gold supply and thereby destabilizing commodities markets.  Now, this might not be literally "true," but passage of the Leprechaun Tariff of 2011 would create the certainty American business requires, so let's get to it.

    Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images News/Getty Images


    Tags: Agriculture, EPA, House of Representatives