Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge says the recall of over half a billion eggs produced by two Iowa farms is “unfortunate” and it may be time to beef up state inspections of the operations. 

“We can learn from this. We can take this as a lesson that there is a role for responsible regulation. There is a role for producers working with inspectors to make sure that the products we’re delivering are absolutely safe.  I think we all want that,” Judge says.  “You know, we’re proud of agriculture in Iowa. We’re proud of what we produce and put in people’s mouths and we sure want to be able to say that that’s safe.”

Judge, a Democrat, served as Iowa’s ag secretary for eight years, until she became the state’s lieutenant governor in January of 2007. During an interview at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Judge refused to speculate about whether state officials could have done more to prevent the salmonella scare.

“I have been, of course, in the (state) senate and, of course, as secretary of agriculture so have been very much involved in the evolution of the regulations around the livestock industry,” Judge said.  “Are they perfect? No. Could they be better? Absolutely. We should have more money dedicated to enforcement of those regulations.” 

According to Judge, enforcement of state regulations on the livestock industry has been hampered by the state’s economic downturn and cuts in the state budget.  As the economy turns around, Judge said there may be more money around to hire more inspectors.

“We’ve not had as active, probably, enforcement as would be ideal,” Judge told KICD Radio’s Dan Skelton. “And now as we are into a recovery phase, I think that’s certainly an area we need to look at and beef up.” 

She said the egg recall involving Jack DeCoster’s operations has damaged the reputation of all Iowa farmers. “It is a black eye to Iowa and a black eye to lots of very responsible producers in the state,” Judge said in Spencer. “You get one incident of things that maybe weren’t done right and then everybody get painted with that brush.”

Judge and her husband, John, have a cow-calf operation near Albia.

(Reporting by Dan Skelton, KICD, Spencer)