By Jimmy Myers
U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt made the rounds in St. Joseph on Friday, touting a recent $55 million amendment that will keep federal food inspectors on the job, which affects the 2,800 workers at Triumph Foods, his first stop.
The U.S. Senate last week approved the amendment that was introduced by Mr. Blunt, the leading Republican on a subcommittee for agriculture appropriations, and Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor, the leading Democrat on the subcommittee. The amendment helps fill a $55 million gap in the Department of Agriculture's budget, caused by the sequestration.
The amendment keeps the egg, beef and pork inspectors on the job through the end of September.
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said due the amendment's passing, the department would not follow through with plans to begin furloughing inspectors beginning in July, which would have impacted workers at Triumph.
Mr. Blunt said federal inspectors involved in meat, eggs and pork processing plants must be on the job at all times, or the plant cannot legally operate.
"If these inspectors hadn't shown up 15 days between now and September," he said while meeting with Triumph administrators at the plant Friday, "the 2,800 people who work here couldn't have worked those 15 days. A total of 40,000 people in Missouri are involved in those kinds of jobs."
Mr. Blunt said he was "particularly offended" that the people who work hard in these plants would have had their hours cut due to the issues originating in the federal government.
"The failure of the Congress, particularly the Senate, to do its work for the last four or five years has finally caught up with the process," he said.
While Mr. Blunt acknowledges the issues that arise with the sequestration, he still believes there should be a cap on spending.
"Now we need to get busy, finding out what we do moving forward if the federal government continues to have a cap on spending, as I believe it should and will," he said.
Other planned stops in St. Joseph for the senator Friday included the St. Joseph Metro Chamber offices and a Northwest Missouri Republican Club meeting at Bandana's.