U.S. Senator Pat Roberts today sent the following letter to the Food and Drug Administration to encourage swift approval of waivers to blend corn with aflatoxin to increase feed supply for livestock producers hard hit by ongoing drought.
The following is text of the letter, dated today:
Dr. Margaret Hamburg
Department of Health and Human Services
US Food and Drug Administration
10903 New Hampshire Avenue NW
Silver Spring, MD 20993
Dear Dr. Hamburg:
This year has been one of the most challenging in decades for America's farmers and ranchers. With more than two-thirds of farmland in the United States covered by disaster designations, there are very few producers who are not feeling some impact from the drought that has plagued the majority of the country.
For this reason, I have urged the Administration to do everything possible to help farmers and ranchers in these challenging times. One challenge that livestock and poultry producers are facing is the limited availability of feed. Many livestock and poultry producers are liquidating herds that have taken generations to build simply because of the lack of availability of affordable feed.
In many drought-stricken areas aflatoxin is impacting the quality of the corn that would normally be used for feed. At certain levels, aflatoxin can cause fatalities when fed to livestock and poultry, but in trace amounts, it is not harmful to use in feed. However, the Food and Drug Administration does not permit elevators and grain handlers to blend loads of corn to ensure that aflatoxin levels are safe for feeding purposes.
Given the shortage of feed available this year and the extreme hardship this shortage is causing in the livestock and poultry sectors, I strongly urge the Food and Drug Administration to quickly review any corn blending waiver requests received for livestock and poultry sectors. I understand that acceptable aflatoxin levels for the dairy industry are significantly different than for other livestock and poultry sectors, and I also urge you to consider this difference in providing waivers. The ability of elevators and grain handlers to have safe and efficient means available to them to address aflatoxin issues could save the hard work of generations of farmers and ranchers in Kansas and across the country.
Senator Roberts is ranking member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.