Johnny Isakson's Position Statement on Agriculture

Agriculture is the leading industry in Georgia’s vibrant economy. From peaches to poultry and from cotton to timber, Georgia is home to a larger variety of agricultural industries than almost any other state. I’m proud to represent such hardworking Americans, and I am committed to making decisions that strengthen our agricultural economy while also protecting its legacy.

Georgia has a large poultry industry and is a major exporter of poultry. I am proud to serve as co-chair of the Senate Chicken Caucus, as the poultry industry annually contributes over $15.1 billion to the Georgia economy. I have worked hard to ensure that poultry farmers in Georgia and across the United States are treated fairly in trade agreements with other countries. We have made great strides recently to help ensure fair trading practices with South Africa, and as a member of the Senate Finance Subcommittee on International Trade, I have been working to open up India to U.S. poultry. I am also proud to support the Georgia-based Southeast Poultry Research Lab, which leads the world in poultry health research. A bill that passed at the end of 2014 funds a $45 million upgrade of this Athens, Ga., facility that is a part of a $155 million overhaul to expand and modernize this facility, which is of national and international importance. 

Global Food Security Act
As a Senate sponsor of the Global Food Security Act of 2016, working to pass this legislation was a priority for me. I am pleased that it was signed into law in July 2016. This legislation empowers developing countries to achieve a path to self-sufficiency through private sector agricultural development. Georgia agricultural leaders have been at the forefront of sharing their expertise and know-how to improve crop yields in countries with food shortages. The bipartisan bill coordinates U.S. foreign assistance programs, including the Feed the Future Initiative, so that there is a comprehensive strategy for development programs that use American agricultural expertise to more aggressively tackle chronic hunger abroad.

Biotechnology Labeling
I believe that consumers should be able to know what’s in their food and should have access to the best scientific information on food safety. In June 2016, the Senate passed a food labeling measure that will establish one national standard for the labeling of foods produced with biotechnology, often referred to as “genetically-modified” (GMO) foods, similar to nutritional labels currently on food products. Based on its review of the current science, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not found evidence that a food’s bioengineering makes it less safe than food developed with traditional plant breeding. As Georgia’s number one industry, agriculture plays a vital role in the state’s economy, contributing over $72.5 billion annually. Georgia farmers and food producers ship their products to every state in the country. Having all 50 states set different standards would create an unworkable regulatory burden for Georgia farmers and food producers, and the cost of compliance would lead to higher prices for consumers at the grocery store. For these reasons, I supported the Senate labeling bill which was signed into law by President Obama in July 2016.

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