New projections from the U.S. Department of Agriculture say it’ll cost four-billion dollars to comply with new “country of origin labeling” laws in the first year, but Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says that figure is inaccurate. Grassley says it won’t “cost anywheres near what the industry says it’s going to cost, what the Department says it’s going to cost and I think a lot of that is propaganda to build a case against repealing the law, or at least not enforcing the law.” While the U-S-D-A says costs to producers are expected to be between 200-and-450 dollars a year, food companies and grocery stores won’t be able to bear all of the predicted additional costs and will have to pass it along to consumers. Grassley says it’s a scare tactic.Grassley says “The American consumer has a right to know the country of origin of the meat they are purchasing. The Department of Agriculture is moving forward, but they still aren’t indicating much willingness to make Country of Origin Labeling happen. The Department shows lower cost estimates than had been originally published. I believe the cost is still over-inflated due to USDA’s reliance on self-serving industry-information.”Suicide bombers killed themselves and some three-dozens other people in several Baghdad blasts Monday, one at the Red Cross headquarters in Iraq. Reports say Red Cross officials are considering a full withdrawal from that embattled nation, which Grassley says would be a shame. Grassley says if the Red Cross pulls out, “it’s kind of a victory for the terrorists there in Iraq.” Grassley says it’s clear, the terrorists have no ethics or values. He says they wouldn’t be killing their own people as well as those they hate “if they had any scruples, morals and ethics.” President Bush called the suicide bombings an act of “desperation.” On another topic, Senator Grassley says he’s gotten a commitment from nursing home association leaders nationwide that new federal money being sent to the homes will be spent on “hands-on direct care for residents,” and not on padding the pockets of those who run the elder care facilities.The four-billion dollars in additional Medicare payments will be spend over the next decade on things like funding for registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and certified nursing assistants, “not for things like nursing home executive pay raises.” Grassley says “These care givers are the people who touch nursing home residents’ lives most directly. They are the backbone of the system.” Those signing pledge letters were the American Health Care Association, the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care, the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, the American Health Quality Association, and the American Hospital Association.
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