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Trump Nominates Texan to be Food Safety Undersecretary

Texas Tech Photo
Texas Tech Photo
Dr. Mindy Brashears faces a Senate hearing and some questions about her ties to Big Ag.

Update, May 11, 9:04 a.m.: Regan Beck, director of government affairs at The Texas Farm Bureau, responded to calls from KETR after this story was published. In regards to Dr. Brashears' nomination, he said she was "the right person for the right job." Regarding the questions about her ties to the ag industry, Beck said her ties are "a plus," because she understands how the industry works and what it needs to make the food supply safer.

Earlier this month, President Trump nominated Dr. Mindy Brashears, director of Texas Tech’s International Center for Food Industry Excellence, to be the next undersecretary of food safety at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Brashears is a long-established researcher in food safety. Much of her work at Texas Tech has been in focused on improving food security. But for critics, the problem is not that Brashears is unqualified (even critics say she absolutely is), it’s that some of her research at Texas Tech was funded by big ag groups like the National Cattleman’s Association and the National Pork Producers Council.

Similar concerns abound over the 19 patents she holds and is financially tied to.

“We had heard that one of the issues that was holding up her formal nomination was the fact that she held a number of patents,” says Tony Corbo, senior lobbyist at Washington, DC-based Food and Water Watch.

The nomination for anyone as the food safety undersecretary has been a long time coming. The post has been open for four years, in fact. But even with the open seat, the White House took several months to nominate Brashears.

Concerns or not, food safety industry trade publications like FeedStuffs and Food Safety News report being happy that someone finally has been nominated to what they call a key post in the federal government.

Big Ag and industry groups praise the candidate. Regan Beck, director of government affairs at The Texas Farm Bureau, told Texas Agriculture Daily that Brashears is an established leader in food safety who will ensure that Americans have access to the safest food supply in the world.

Brashears still needs to face a Senate confirmation hearing, for which a date hasn’t yet been set. But so far, no one seems to think she won’t get it.

Scott Morgan has been an award-winning journalist since 2001. His work has appeared in several newspapers and magazines as well as online. He has also been an editor, freelancer, speaker, writing teacher, author, and podcaster.