When I took the oath of office, I swore to protect and defend not just the Constitution of the United States but my fellow Iowans. In 2015, the avian influenza outbreak wiped out millions of layer hens, turkeys, and backyard flocks in Iowa. Response efforts revealed problematic breaks in the federal government’s ability to communicate with the people and react quickly to large-scale animal disease outbreaks. This disaster also raised concerns among farmers and producers about whether our nation would be able to quickly and effectively share information and respond to agro-terrorism threats and bio-attacks, ultimately an attack against the safety and reliability of Iowans’ food supplies.
Folks I talk to have great concerns about the safety and security of our homeland and her people.And their concerns are warranted. The reality of living in this day and age is that it’s not just the big cities that have to be prepared for an act of terror. All counterterrorism measures must reflect a holistic understanding of potential vulnerabilities, including our agriculture community.
Farming and agriculture are not only the backbone of the Iowa economy, but of the nation. Any attack on our food supply could have devastating consequences on our economy and our communities, so it’s essential we take proper steps against potential threats.
Earlier this year, I reintroduced the Securing our Agriculture and Food Act to secure our nation’s agriculture industry, and food supply from agro-terrorism threats and other high-risk bio-security events. My bill does this by ensuring the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to includes our nation’s agricultural, veterinarian, and food industries as part of a broader emergency preparedness plans to protect Americans.
The ultimate intention of my bipartisan bill is not to just protect our economy, but to give every parent the complete confidence in the safety of the food they are placing on their families’ table each day. On March 8, this bill was approved by the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security. On March 16, the Senate version of my bill passed out of the full U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
Security is not a partisan issue. As Iowans, we know when we work together we can accomplish great things. I will continue to work with my colleagues of both parties in both the House and Senate to keep our country and her people safe.