Last month, bipartisan legislation passed the Senate to authorize more than 200 ag inspectors to be stationed at various ports of entry into the U.S.
Both Michigan Democratic Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters are backing the Protecting America’s Food and Agriculture Act of 2019, which would authorize hiring 240 ag specialists, 200 ag technicians, and 20 canine teams a year.
Michigan Farm Bureau’s national legislative counsel John Kran supports this move.
“We’re trying to make sure that the food and food products that are coming into the United states are safe and free of any pest diseases, invasive species that could potentially hurt our domestic production and also maintain consumer safety,” said Kran.
Across the borders, there’s an estimated shortage of 700 workers. Kran said these workers are imperative to protect the nation’s food supply and agricultural products.
“As our world becomes more global, and with trade, we have more products coming in our store shelves year-round,” he said. “We have to be extra careful we’re not bringing in something that could contaminate our domestic food supply or bring in new pests that could really damage our production here in Michigan or other parts of the country.”
The bill passed the Senate by a voice vote, and legislation still needs to be introduced to the House. Kran is optimistic it will be passed soon to better secure our boarders from invasive species or diseases.
“It’s good to see a piece of legislation move in such a bipartisan way,” said Kran. “Something that’s so critical and something that could really mean so much to our farmers here on the ground. Hopefully this will help prevent the next disease or pest from coming into the country.”