Again this year, the Institute of Food Technologists has recognized two legislators for outstanding contributions to science-based food policies. Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., and Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., are the recipients of the IFT 2009 Congressional Support for Science Awards.

A reception to honor the recipients was held on May 12 in Washington, D.C. Speaking at the event, IFT Executive Vice President Barbara Byrd Keenan said the two award winners “have paralleled IFT’s efforts to highlight the challenges involved with the current and emerging food safety issues associated with a globalized food supply.”

Sen. Conrad, a veteran of more than 20 years in Washington, helped write the 2002 and 2008 Farm Bills. He is one of the most senior members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, and is a leading advocate for American farmers and ranchers on a wide range of agricultural, trade, tax, and budget issues.

“Sen. Conrad served as a key negotiator of the 2008 Farm Bill,” observed IFT President Sheri Schellhaass, who took part in the awards presentation and celebration. “The bill enhances the accomplishments of the previous Farm Bill by expanding disaster assistance, improving the farm safety net, providing incentives for farmers and ranchers to produce energy crops, augmenting nutrition programs and assistance to those in need, and increasing conservation programs.”

In addition, Conrad has been a long-time supporter of Country of Origin Labeling. “This is a clear benefit to consumers because Sen. Conrad believes they have a right to know the country of origin of the foods they buy,” noted Schellhaass.

“Indisputably, Sen. Conrad has emerged as a leader and gained a reputation as an advocate of food and agriculture policies and the importance of adequate federal funding to assure a safe and abundant food supply,” Schellhaass concluded.

Rep. Goodlatte serves on the House Agriculture Committee, where he is the Ranking Minority Member on the Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Energy, and Research.

“This important subcommittee deals with a wide range of issues, including agricultural research and education,” said Schellhaass. “He also serves on the Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry. This is of special importance to the district he represents—Virginia’s Sixth Congressional District—since it is one of the nation’s leading producers of turkey and poultry.”

Recognizing that a safe and abundant water supply is paramount for food and agricultural resources, Goodlatte sponsored a bill to establish a 21st century water commission to study and develop recommendations for a comprehensive water strategy that addresses the future of water resources. In addition, he secured funding for the Biodesign and Processing Research Center at Virginia Tech, which develops new and innovative approaches to production agriculture by adding value to commodity crops.

Accepting the IFT award, Goodlatte observed that, “The U.S. must continue to have an effective and rigorous food safety system that relies on sound science to ensure products are safe for consumers. I appreciate the hard work of IFT and its members in promoting science which ensures our safe food supply.”

Selected by an independent panel of IFT members, the Congressional Support for Science Award was established in 2001. It is presented annually to two members of Congress as acknowledgement for outstanding contributions during the previous year. Those on hand for this year’s award presentation included member volunteers, board members, past presidents, senior government officials, and representatives of allied and partner organizations that share a commitment to food science and food safety.

Last year’s IFT Congressional Support for Science Award winners, who were recognized with a celebratory reception that was held last spring in Washington, D.C., were Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky.