U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) today introduced a bipartisan amendment to the Continuing Resolution (CR) that would protect private sector jobs by solving a funding gap for the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). The Pryor/Blunt/Coons amendment would transfer $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.
In proposing this amendment, the Senators aim is to 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 lead to the closure of nearly 6,300 food inspection facilities across America. As a result, over 500,000 industry workers would lose nearly $400 million in wages.?
The Pryor/Blunt/Coons amendment 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 the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
"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," Senator Coons said. "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."
Delaware's poultry industry supports more than 13,000 jobs and contributes more than $3.2 billion to the state's economy.
"With the combination of across-the-board spending cuts and sequestration, our meat processing facilities may be forced to furlough food inspectors -- hurting our local economies and raising prices for consumers everywhere," Senator Pryor said. "That's why I was proud to team up with Senator Blunt on this amendment that would restore funding for the Food Safety and Inspection Service and ensure we have a safe, reliable, and economically sound food industry."
"This amendment solves a very pressing issue that impacts each and every American," Senator Blunt said. "Without this funding, every meat, poultry, and egg processing facility in the country would be forced to shut down for up to two weeks. That means high food prices and less work for the hardworking Americans who work in these facilities nationwide."