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Government shutdown food supply safety
<p> FEDERAL food inspectors will be among the first furloughed in the current government shutdown. USDA photo.</p>

Government shutdown endangers nation's food supply

The current government shutdown is a travesty that should never happen, but has on a few occasions in our history. The current Legislative gridlock seems more like jealous children at play than politicians at work.

America used to be the Promise Land. Now we are the Promised Land, but the elected politicians who really run this country — the ones who made all the campaign promises, haven’t shown the wisdom or courage they promised to solve our country’s lingering socio-economic problems.

Don’t worry about blame, there’s plenty to go around, and it doesn’t matter whether you are an elected Republican, Democrat, or Tea Party member. It also doesn’t matter whether you’re Catholic, Baptist, Jewish, Muslim or atheist, if you are elected to provide legislative leadership for this country, you should be ashamed of yourself and you should make it your life’s work to do a better job.

The most recent shutdown of the Federal government is strictly a 100 percent man (and woman) made national disaster. It pushes our country closer and closer to the abyss that those of my generation never imagined would happen. We have arguably the most dynamic people in the world, the largest economy in the world and by far the most feared military in the world, yet our elected politicians can’t figure out a way to keep our government operational.

I like a bumper sticker — yes they are already out — that says, “Forget the government, open the country.” Problem is we can’t forget the government because they run the country. And, the current government from top to bottom is running it poorly, right now. And, those of us who pay taxes are paying for something we are not getting.

For starters, most Americans don’t know the safety of our food supply is largely dependent on Federal agencies, meat and food inspectors are among the first targeted for furlough. If you think swallowing a full plate of Obamacare is less than tasty, try a little salmonella-laced meat, then tell me about your high principles of government.

A recent non-government blog states, “During the shutdown, the Food and Drug Administraton will have to cease most of its food-safety operations. That includes routine establishment inspections, some compliance and enforcement activities, monitoring of imports, notification programs (e.g., food contact substances, infant formula), and the majority of the laboratory research necessary to inform public health decision-making."

To my friends in the peanut industry, please forgive me for the following, it’s just an example. Remember the peanut plant in Georgia that sent out thousands of jars of salmonella-tainted peanut butter — that’s what can happen when the food inspection component of the government is working fully funded. Imagine the consequences of food-borne illness, when the furloughs begin to chop away at the manpower needed to keep our food supply safe.

Farmers will do their share to keep high quality farm products flowing to processing plants. And, food processors will do their very best, they always do, to provide Americans with a safe food supply, but they simply don’t have the manpower to regulate themselves. If America wants that to happen, then America better plan on paying billions more per year for our food.

If destroying the safety of our food supply isn’t enough for our grid-locked Congress to achieve, why not rob women and infants of the nutrition they need to produce the next generation of healthy Americans.

During the shutdown, the Department of Agriculture will stop supporting the Women, Infant and Children (WIC) program, which helps pregnant women and new moms buy healthy food and provides nutritional information and health care referrals to those who need it. The program aids some 9 million Americans.

Among the morass of government related shortcomings, we have no farm bill, and we don’t seem likely to get one anytime soon. Most Americans don’t seem to understand the long-term consequences of that lack of legislative action by our elected officials in Washington.

The currently affected Federal services that Americans are accustomed to getting, but rarely identified or appreciated by Joe and Jane Public, are but a small drop in a big bucket compared to what’s coming after Oct. 17.

If our seemingly perpetually gridlocked Congress can’t reach some kind of reasonable understanding and pass an unpleasant, but routine, debt extension, much of the government will really shut down. Worse, our representation as a world leader will be further tarnished and our road to economic and social recovery will be harder to achieve.


TAGS: Legislative
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