Andy Hanacek

I’ll be honest with you I was never one for grandstanding and politicking. So many empty promises, so much silly applause. But, I’ve always done my best to watch the State of the Union address. Further, since President Barack Obama took office, I’ve been more in tune to his addresses, given that I hadn’t been fired up by a public speaker of his ilk since former NFL head coach Herman Edwards had me running through brick walls with enthusiasm each time he spoke — and I’m not even a Jets or Chiefs fan.

But I digress. My wife, Gina, and I sat down to watch the State of the Union this year, and I awaited word on several issues of importance to the protein-processing industry, such as food safety and immigration any hints that might lead to answers.

After more than an hour of impassioned speech, mostly about the economy and the Republicans’ stonewalling of everything the Democrats envisioned, the President left the podium. Gina left the living room laughing at the empty, scripted, sometimes silly applause throughout, as well as Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s occasional politically blank stare (my wife is a teacher).

I left the room fired up about the speech, but wondering what the heck happened to the Food Safety Working Group? Why no mention of food safety as an issue to be addressed? Why only one mention of “fixing our broken immigration system” from the President?

Now, before you rake me over the coals over priorities, I understand that fixing the economy and health care (one way or another) are more popular topics to address in a State of the Union address. But you mean to tell me that the President couldn’t fit in more than one mention on those two topics in an hour-plus address? At least an update would have been nice.

While the economy and jobs are important to this industry, it still awaits answers and/or reform from the government on food safety and immigration. The President’s State of the Union address fell way short of giving any clue into the inner workings (if any) on those issues.

The industry, for its own sake, needs to make sure that this silence is not a harbinger of things to come.