What’s ahead for Washington this week: 'Denialism' vs science-based policy

By Jon H. Harsch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Washington, July 11 – 'Denialism' – the dogmatic rejection of what seems common sense to toxicologists, economists, climate scientists and other experts – is being tackled head on this week by Crop Life America (CLA). At their annual policy conference Tuesday, CLA hosts a score of common-sense advocates to consider “Modern Agriculture: Exploring its Relationship with Technology, Science & Society.” Speakers include Senate Ag Committee Chair Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and Michael Specter, author of “Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives.”

Wouldn't it be nice to see everybody from politicians to the public start accepting science-based policy! As Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said and now so many others have repeated, “You're entitled to your own opinions, but not to your own facts.” But don't expect much agreement on facts this week, not when the week will kick off with Democrats pushing hard to enact their financial reform legislation as essential for creating a stable financial system while Republicans blast the bill as guaranteeing financial disaster.

In another clash of claimed-to-be facts, wrangling will continue this week between Republicans and Democrats on opposite sides of efforts to pass or trash climate-change legislation – and also between different groupings of Democrats who will try to confine their differences over climate legislation to another closed-door caucus session this week. Meanwhile at least there appears to be bipartisan agreement on the need to pass long-stalled legislation to extend unemployment benefits and expired tax breaks . . . but no agreement on ways to offset that spending.

One master of facts is Agriculture Sec. Tom Vilsack, so facts will fly – along with lots of conjecture about when lies ahead – when Secretary Vilsack testifies in a House Budget Committee hearing Wednesday on USDA budget issues. Other hearings this week will include another attempt to pin down facts about “Antibiotic Resistance and the use of Antibiotics in Animal Agriculture.” On Tuesday, USDA Deputy Secretary Merrigan and Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE), a former USDA Secretary, will be among the speakers at the American Soybean Association’s Legislative Forum.

Congressional hearings this week include:

Wednesday, July 14

  • House Budget Committee hearing on USDA budget issues with Agriculture Secretary Vilsack

  • House Agriculture Committee markup for H.R. 4785, the Rural Energy Savings Program Act, and other pending business

  • House Energy & Commerce Committee hearing on Antibiotic Resistance and the use of Antibiotics in Animal Agriculture

  • House Judiciary Subcommittee hearing on the Ethical Imperative for Reform of our Immigration System

Thursday, July 15

  • House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee hearing on Putting America Back to Work through Clean Water Infrastructure Investment

USDA’s Economic Research Service & National Agricultural Statistics Service reports:

  • Monday, July 12, Cotton and Wool Outlook, Oil Crops Outlook, Rice Outlook, Crop Progress

  • Tuesday, July 13, Feed Outlook, Wheat Outlook, Sugar and Sweeteners Outlook, Latest U.S. Agricultural Trade Data, Weather-Crop Summary

  • Wednesday July 14, Livestock and Meat Trade Data, U.S. Agricultural Trade Data Update, Broiler Hatchery

  • Thursday, July 15, Aquaculture Data, Turkey Hatchery

  • Friday, July 16, Meat Price Spreads, Dairy Products Prices, Peanut Prices

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