Grassley (literally) adds pork to federal program

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley usually likes to tell constituents about efforts to remove the pork from federal programs.

On Thursday, he continued efforts to put pork back in.

Grassley's office drafted a letter to Federal Bureau of Prisons Director Charles Samuels after the senator learned about the disappearance of pork products from federal prison menus.

"They had, presumably, taken some survey in the Bureau of Prisons and had come come to the conclusion that prisons thought pork was the least-liked food they get served," Grassley said as he added a touch of sarcasm in a Friday telephone interview. "So, obviously we've got to satisfy the prisoners, so we'll quit buying pork."

The decision to remove pork from prisons was made earlier in 2015. Grassley learned of the change at the start of the new fiscal year.

"To corroborate the validity of the claim that prisoners indicated a lack of interest in pork products, I am requesting copies of the prisoner surveys and responses that were used to support the determination to no longer serve pork in federal prisons," Grassley said in his letter to Samuels. "Additionally, the spokesman indicated that pork had been the lowest rated food, 'for several years.' Please supply the surveys and responses dating back as far as prisoners may have indicated their dislike for pork products. In addition, please provide a line item description of the costs incurred to conduct each survey."

Grassley told Samuels the United States produces more than 92 percent of its own pork. He also said pork industry is responsible for 547,800 jobs, which creates $22.3 billion in personal incomes and contributes $39 billion to the gross domestic product.

"The United States is the world's largest exporter of pork, and the third largest producer of pork," Grassley's letter continued. "This unprecedented decision to remove pork from all federal prisons will have consequences on the livelihoods of American citizens who work in the pork industry."

The Federal Bureau of Prisons had until Nov. 2 to meet the senator's requests for information. Grassley is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"Within 24 hours, after getting the letter, they decided to start serving pork again," Grassley said. "I think that you have to conclude that this is another example of Washington being a island surrounded by reality -- not a lot of common sense there. So this senator from the Midwest raised a lot of common sense questions that was very difficult for them to answer. They decided to cave in to this senator and start serving pork. It's a battle won, I'd like to say, for the pork industry, but more importantly it's a battle won for common sense government. It's also a battle for us to find out more about how some bureaucracies just simply waste money."

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