In a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee, the U.S. Agriculture Department Secretary Tom Vilsack warned law-makers about the hazards that would likely result from the federal sequester. Specifically, Secretary Vilsack stated that cuts to the Department would result in layoffs at the Food Safety and Inspection Service, causing deficient food inspection and the closing of hundreds of meat and poultry plants across the country.
Vilsack is concerned that the sequester will result in uninspected meat and poultry entering the marketplace, because layoffs at the Food Safety and Inspection Service will mean that there are not enough inspectors to adequately inspect all food products that are distributed to the public.
Another consequence of the sequester, says Vilsack, is the likely shutting down of hundreds of meat and poultry plants across the United States. With a furlough to the country’s inspection service, these plants would be forced to shut down and cease operations because there would be no one to inspect their meat.
According to Vilsack, the layoffs could result in 15 days of lost production, costing over $10 billion in production losses. Moreover, meat and poultry industry workers would suffer over $400 million in lost wages.
With these cuts to the federal budget, quantities of meat and poultry that would be available to the public are diminished. Moreover, the products that do reach the market will likely cost more and be less safe for consumption.
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