Senate Unanimously Passes Pryor/Blunt/Coons Amendment To Protect Private Sector Jobs, Avoid Sequester Furloughs For Food Inspectors

Press Release

By:  Mark Pryor Chris Coons Roy Blunt
Date: March 20, 2013
Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Senators Mark Pryor (D-AR), Roy Blunt (R-MO), and Chris Coons (D-DE) today announced that the U.S. Senate has unanimously passed their amendment to the Continuing Resolution (CR) that will protect private sector jobs by solving a funding gap for the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

"After much hard work, I'm pleased to see that the Senate has unanimously approved our amendment," Pryor said. "By solving this funding gap, we've been able to protect private sector jobs, keep food prices affordable, and help nearly 40,000 employees in my state alone."

"I'm very pleased the Senate unanimously passed this important amendment, which will help protect every family from paying higher food costs, and ensure hardworking Americans who make a living at these food inspection facilities don't see their wages cut," said Blunt.

"The federal workers who inspect meat and poultry are critical not only to our nation's food security, but to the economic stability of many of our rural communities," Coons said. "While we continue working to replace the reckless sequester with responsible deficit-reduction measures, it was important that Congress act to prevent a potential crisis from developing in our nation's food supply. Backlogs in food inspections could result in the shutdown of processing facilities and send devastating ripple effects through rural communities and straight to the shelves of every market and grocery in the country."

The Pryor/Blunt/Coons amendment will protect Americans' jobs at meat, poultry, and egg production facilities nationwide. It's estimated that the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) projected food inspector furloughs would have closed nearly 6,300 food inspection facilities across America. As a result, over 500,000 industry workers would have lost nearly $400 million in wages.

The amendment transfers $55 million in existing agriculture funds to FSIS in order to ensure food inspectors are not furloughed. These facilities are required by law to have federal inspectors on the production line in order to operate. It adds no additional cost to the bill. Instead, it moves one-time funding for school equipment grants and deferred maintenance on buildings and facilities at USDA.

Senators Pryor and Blunt serve as the top members of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies.