WASHINGTON, May 20 – Democrats and Republicans both say they are focused on job creation, but plant closures across Rural America this week will serve as a brutal reminder that current federal efforts aren’t sufficient enough to maintain existing jobs or create enough new ones – especially when food news goes viral on the Internet.

In the case of Beef Products International (BPI), the job losses are particularly troubling because the firm was producing a safe product called lean finely textured beef - dubbed “pink slime” by critics and several media outlets. Social media overtook science, creating a firestorm of negative publicity. The ensuing marketplace reaction forced the South Dakota firm to suspend operations.

Now the pending closures are becoming official. On May 25, about 650 jobs will be lost when BPI plants are closed in Amarillo, Texas; Garden City, Kansas.; and Waterloo, Iowa. A plant in South Sioux City, Neb., will remain open but run at reduced capacity.

The need for more jobs will undoubtedly be fodder for discussion this week as U.S. House members are back home for a "work week" with constituents.  

The U.S. Senate is scheduled to convene at 2:00 pm on Monday. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV., plans to resume consideration of S.3187, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) user fees legislation, sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-IA.

Among other things, the bill would allow the FDA to charge user fees to makers of generic and biosimilar drugs, similar to the process already in place for brand-name drugs and medical devices. The measure would also adjust some FDA policies to make it easier to approve some life-saving drugs.

The White House supports the measure, which is similar to one recently approved by unanimous consent by the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

For other events and hearings this week:

Monday, May 21:

9:00 a.m. PST, House Committee on Natural Resources | Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Oversight Field Hearing, entitled “Failed Federal Forest Policies: Endangering Jobs, Forests and Species”, Cowlitz County Expo and Conference Center, 1900 7th Avenue, Longview, Washington.

1:00 p.m., House Committee on Homeland Security | Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, Field Hearing: Stopping the Flow of Illicit Drugs in Arizona by Leveraging State, Local and Federal Information. 636 E. McDowell Rd., Building M5101, Russell Auditorium, Arizona National Guard Phoenix, AZ 85008

National WIC Association’s 2012 Annual Education and Networking Conference & Exhibits will be held in Denver, CO at the Sheraton Denver Hotel

May 20-23: Alltech’s 28th International Symposium, Lexington, KY. http://www.alltech.com/symposium

USDA Report: Crop Progress

Tuesday, May 22:

10:00 a.m., Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Hearing: The American Energy Innovation Council’s (AEIC) Report on the Government’s Role in Energy Innovation, SD-366 Dirksen Senate Office Building

10:00 a.m., Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, Hearing on Implementing Derivatives Reform: Reducing Systematic Risk and Improving Market Oversight, 538 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

National WIC Association’s 2012 Annual Education and Networking Conference & Exhibits will be held in Denver, CO at the Sheraton Denver Hotel.

Wednesday, May 23:

Secretary Vilsack to host a roundtable on farm credit in Virginia

11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., AgChoice “The Future of Agriculture Research and Innovation” Lunch and Panel Discussion, Room 385, Russell Senate Office Building

2:00 p.m., Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, & Urban Affairs | Subcommittee on Security and International Trade and Finance, Hearing: Reviewing the U.S. – China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, 538 Dirksen Senate Office Building 

Thursday, May 24:

Deputy Secretary Merrigan will speak at the USDA-wide Asian American and Pacific Islander Observance in Washington, DC

Deputy Secretary Merrigan will give remarks at The Atlantic’s 3rd Annual Food Summit in Washington, DC. 1:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m., W Hotel 515 15th Street, NW Washington, DC. Agenda.


10:00 a.m., Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs | Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services, & International Security, Hearing: Innovating with Less: Examining Efforts to Reform Information Technology Spending, 342 Dirksen Senate Office Building.


USDA Report: U.S. Export Sales

Friday, May 24:

USDA Reports: Food Price Outlook



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