Vilsack Endorses Amendment to Prevent FSIS Furloughs

An ag-related amendment could still be added to the Senate's continuing resolution. The amendment - introduced by Roy Blunt of Missouri and Mark Pryor of Arkansas - would transfer approximately 55-million dollars in existing USDA funds to the Food Safety Inspection Service to prevent furloughs of meat and poultry inspectors. Blunt and Pryor have said the furloughs would lead to the closure of nearly 63-hundred food inspection facilities and 500-thousand industry workers would lose nearly 400-million dollars in wages. During a National Ag Day speech Tuesday - U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack endorsed the measure. Vilsack said the introduction of the amendment was an acknowledgment that he has been correct all along in saying he has no choice but to furlough the inspectors under the Budget Control Act. The Secretary has been saying the Act is written so tightly he doesn't have the flexibility to transfer funds from other USDA accounts to keep the inspectors on the job.

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