Guest Column: U.S. Senator Steve Daines
One of the greatest privileges I have in the U.S. Senate is standing up every day on behalf of Montana’s farmers and ranchers. There are more than 25,000 farms and ranches across Montana which are the foundation of our economy, and make up our number one industry: agriculture.
But agriculture is more than just an economic driver of our state, it’s a way of life for thousands of Montana families and supports tens of thousands of jobs throughout our state. In Montana, we have about two-and-a-half times as many cattle as we do people – that’s over two and a half million cattle – which helps to provide a safe, reliable and affordable food supply not only for our nation but for the world.
Over the past several weeks and months, I’ve heard directly from farmers and ranchers about your strong concerns with a Vermont-style food labeling law that would have wide-ranging impacts on jobs in Montana, agriculture research, and the price we all pay to feed our families.
I’m outraged by defenders of this fringe law who have embraced a radical ideology and ignore the very real hardships that it will inflict on agricultural jobs and family incomes, and have been outspoken in the Senate on this issue. Make no mistake, the Vermont-style law is an attack on the heart of Montana’s way of life. It’s an attack on Montana farm and ranch operations, and I won’t stand for it.
That’s why I supported a bipartisan compromise in the U.S. Senate to head off this disastrous law and provide a nationwide standard that will protect Montana jobs, prevent baseless discrimination against Montana agriculture goods and avoid higher prices in the grocery line. The nationwide standard includes an important provision to exempt meat, poultry and egg products from labeling regulations if the animal may have consumed bioengineered feed.
Montana’s universities have top-tier agriculture research programs that have used technology and bioscience to help farmers across our state increase crop yield, minimize waste and help keep Montana livestock disease-free – all necessary to helping our farmers and ranchers meet growing global food demand. I will continue supporting agriculture research and bioscience programs and encourage federal government agencies to stick to the science, not marketing campaigns, when mandating regulations on food labeling.
Representatives from the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have both publically admitted to me that there are no material, scientific differences between foods grown using biotechnology and that there is no scientific evidence that mandatory labeling is necessary or beneficial. Our government should make decisions on food safety based only on sound science, not on marketing efforts that have no bearing on health, food safety or nutrition.
I will stand up for Montana and continue to fight to ensure that Montana’s agricultural products are not unfairly and arbitrarily discriminated against. I’m honored, as always, to stand with Montana’s farmers, ranchers and agricultural industry.
Thank you to Senator Daines for standing up for Montana’s farmers and ranchers in Washington D.C.!