U.S. Representative K. Michael Conaway (R-Texas) issued the following statement today in support of the Blunt/Pryor Senate amendment that would prevent the furloughing of Food Safety and Inspection Service meat inspectors:
"Inspecting and ensuring the safety and availability of American meat products is not negotiable. I commend the Senate, in particular the leadership of Senator Roy Blunt, for working diligently to ensure that the Food Safety and Inspection Service has the funds they need to fulfill their mission.
"Had a furlough gone into effect, production shutdowns would have impacted about 6,290 plants, costing more than $10 billion in production losses and $400 million in lost wages. Limited meat supplies could have driven up prices, impacting families' ability to put food on the table.
"Thanks to this amendment, these scenarios will be avoided. I look forward to supporting this continuing resolution when it reaches the House later this week."
The amendment to the pending continuing resolution would transfer $55 million in existing agriculture funds to the FSIS, ensuring that meat inspectors would not be furloughed. The amendment does not increase the cost or spending in the resolution; it transfers money otherwise allocated for school equipment grants and deferred building and facility maintenance at the U.S. Agriculture Department.
Rep. Conaway, chairman of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management, asked Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in February for answers on how the USDA plans to implement its sequester cuts.