Mr. REHBERG. I rise to speak briefly about the language that is about to be stricken from this bill, which has come to be called the ``hard science amendment.'' I offered this language in committee on behalf of ranchers in Montana. They sat across the table from me and shared the significant concerns they have over the lack of a scientific basis being used by the FDA in developing rules and regulations affecting their ranches and the livestock industry. For me, this isn't faceless regulation. The consequences of these regulations have faces. They wear cowboy boots.
Agriculture is the number one industry in Montana. The State raises 2.6 million cows and calves annually, 180,000 hogs and pigs, 230,000 sheep, and I know of at least 600 goats. The cattle industry alone is responsible for $1.4 billion in sales every year.
Ranchers in Montana and across the United States have a strong incentive to preserve a healthy food supply for the American public, and that means making sure their animals are healthy. The use of antibiotics in livestock significantly improves the health of animals, which in turn lowers the risk of food borne illnesses which may show up later in the process.
FDA has refused to release risk assessments on the impacts antibiotics may have on humans who consume these meats. And while they have not released any credible evidence to support their efforts, FDA bureaucrats are still pushing ranchers to remove these valuable antibiotics from livestock production. This is of grave concern to Montana ranchers, and I will keep fighting alongside Montana producers to get this problem addressed. In fact, I would like to submit letters from those organizations into the Record.
I hope to work with my colleagues on the Appropriations Committee as well as the Energy and Commerce Committee to work with FDA in order to ensure that they examine the facts before moving forward with regulations that will significantly impact Montana's number one industry.