The U-S Senate is expected to vote today on an amendment from Iowa democrat Tom Harkin clarifying the power of the U-S Department of Agriculture. Senator Harkin says the U-S-D-A should clearly have the legal authority to regulate meat and poultry plant inspections to reduce pathogens in food.Harkin’s amendment stems from the case of a Texas beef-packing plant which was ordered to close by the U-S-D-A after failing a series of salmonella tests. Courts later said the inspectors didn’t have the authority to shut down a facility. Harkin says all other meatpacking plants in the U-S were following the rules — the Texas plant was not.Harkin says it’s bad for business and bad for consumers to have continuing doubt about the U-S-D-A’s ability to enforce regulations. Harkin is the ranking democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee.
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