WASHINGTON – The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bipartisan bill to address the threat of agro-terrorism and mitigate the risks to food put on tables across the country. U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill and Republican Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas introduced the Senate version of the bill earlier this month. It unanimously passed in the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, where McCaskill serves as the top-ranking Democrat. The bill now awaits a vote in the full Senate.
“Agro-terrorism and natural disasters present a big threat to Missouri’s most important industry and to the food we all eat every day,” McCaskill said. “I hope the Senate will quickly pass this bipartisan bill so we can protect Missouri farmers, ranchers, and all Americans.”
The Securing Our Agriculture and Food Act makes sure the United States has preparedness policies in place to quickly respond to events threatening U.S. agriculture or food production systems—ultimately protecting these key industries which impact every American on a daily basis. The proposed legislation mandates the Department of Homeland Security put in place plans to, for example, protect livestock, limit the spread of contagious diseases, and keep food from being contaminated in the face of terrorist attacks and/or natural disasters.
Missouri is particularly at risk when it comes to agriculture threats. With almost 100,000 farms across the state spanning over 28 million acres, the agriculture industry generates $88.4 billion a year for the state’s economy. The state has the second largest number of farms in the country and is one of the top producers for a number of crops including long grain rice, cotton, soybean, and corn. One in ten Missouri jobs are in the agriculture or forestry industries.
McCaskill is a longtime advocate for farmers and ranchers in Missouri. Earlier this year, McCaskill introduced the bipartisan Sensible Environmental Protection Act with Republican Senator Mike Crapo of Idaho to provide relief to farmers who currently have to seek two separate and duplicative approvals for the use of standard pesticides on their crops. As part of her continued work for Missouri farmers, McCaskill was one of the few Democrats to oppose the Waters of the U.S. rule, saying the Environmental Protection Agency needs to “go back to the drawing board.” Additionally, McCaskill was a leader in the fight to pass the Farm Bill in 2014, and she took bipartisan action against protectionist measures by Russia that are harming Missouri agriculture exports and U.S. job growth. In the summer of 2015, she embarked on a statewide Agriculture Tour where she heard directly from a wide variety of producers, farmers, ranchers, researchers, and other stakeholders in all corners of the state on Missouri’s agriculture needs.