The 109th Congress opens today, an historic event for Senator Chuck Grassley, the first Iowan elected to a fifth term in the U.S. Senate. Grassley, a republican, says he has a number of items on his personal agenda. Over the next six years, Grassley says he wants to do more to foster the development of renewable energies like biodiesel, ethanol and wind power, and working to open new markets for Iowa’s job-creating exports. Grassley says he has several other goals for the session ahead. Enacting strong pension protections and making it easier to save for retirement, making it legal to import safe prescription drugs from Canada, and making sure the new Medicare prescription drug benefit program is implemented properly later this year. Grassley was first elected to the Senate in 1980. He’s scheduled to be sworn in about noon Central time.Despite the recent discovery of a second case of a cow in Canada infected with “Mad Cow disease,” the U.S. government is going ahead with plans to reopen the U.S. border to Canadian beef.Senator Grassley says he agrees with the proposal. Grassley says there are very few barriers between the U.S. and Canada, saying it’s “meaningless” and comparing it to the border between Iowa and Nebraska. He says the U.S. “legitimately” shut the border down for more than a year after the discovery of the first case of Mad Cow in Canada in May of 2003. Grassley is confident the proper safeguards are in place to prevent infected beef from crossing the border. He says the desire of Canadians to export their beef to the U.S. is just like the U.S. producers trying to send beef to Japan — which banned American beef after the first U.S. case of Mad Cow was found in December of 2003. He says nations need to treat each other fairly, while also protecting the health of their citizens. An official with the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association says he fears if Canadian beef is allowed back into the U.S., it’ll cause “feeder calf” prices to fall.
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