WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate late last night unanimously approved a bipartisan bill led by Senator Claire McCaskill and Republican Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas to protect Missouri’s agriculture industry by addressing the threat of agro-terrorism and mitigating the risks to food put on tables across the country.
McCaskill’s bipartisan legislation will require the Department of Homeland Security to prepare for and prevent events that could devastate agriculture and food production systems.
“A terrorist attack on our agricultural industry or food supply could put countless lives at risk and result in huge economic losses for our state’s farmers and ranchers,” said McCaskill, the top-ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “Missourians rightly expect me to work with my Republican colleagues and President Trump on issues of national security and I’m going to continue to do that no matter what partisans on both sides might say.”
The Securing Our Agriculture and Food Act mandates the Department of Homeland Security have preparedness policies to protect livestock, limit the spread of contagious diseases, and keep food from being contaminated if terrorist attacks and/or natural disasters occur. The bill unanimously passed the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in March.
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.