Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad is teaming up with key members of Congress to defend a leading beef company from a “smear campaign” aimed at removing its product from the market.
According to the Des Moines Register
, Branstad has spoken to leading GOP members of the House Agriculture Committee, which has already undertaken an investigation regarding the safety of a beef product derisively described as “pink slime,” which many fast food restaurants, public schools, and grocery stores have suddenly dropped.
“We need to get to the bottom of this,” Branstad said. “We need to find who’s behind it and why they’re doing it.”
The governor told reporters Monday he has already spoken with Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King, a member of the Agriculture Committee, about a possible hearing. Iowa is one of the nation’s main beef-producing states.
Branstad said he also plans to talk with Oklahoma Republican Frank Lucas, who chairs the committee, as well as other GOP and Democratic members of the panel.
The aim, Branstad said, is to expose the critics of the finely textured beef product and to make sure its leading producer, South Dakota-based Beef Products Inc. (BPI), gets a fair hearing.
The safety of the textured beef used in hamburgers, school lunches, and other foods has been called into question recently by what Branstad described as a “conspiracy of people who don’t like meat,” including the “media elite” and “celebrity chefs.”
“The governor is hoping that with the weight of a congressional campaign that they’ll be able to find just who is engineering this smear campaign against this fine product,” Branstad spokesman Tim Albrecht told the Register.
The Register also noted in its report on the governor’s effort that BPI has been a big campaign contributor to Iowa Republicans.
The Register said the company has given $500,000 since 2002 to state and congressional candidates, including $152,000 to Branstad’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign.
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