Mr. COONS. Madam President, seeing the press of business here, I will be brief. I wanted to take the opportunity to rise and simply speak to the importance of the poultry industry, something that spreads across the Delmarva Peninsula and is central to the State of Maryland, State of Delaware, and many other States in our country.
With the sequester having kicked in, many of us who are from States that have livestock or poultry processing are aware of the impending and significant negative impact on our home States and our economies, on people's employment, and on their opportunity to continue to support their families. So I wanted to briefly speak in support of what I know are Senator Mikulski's tireless efforts to ensure that the 6,200 meat and poultry processing plants in this country do not get needlessly shut down.
In the last quarter of the last calendar year alone, 2.2 billion chickens and turkeys were inspected by the meat inspectors of the Food Safety and Inspection Service.
This poultry industry, which is nationwide, provides vital employment to the people of Delaware, Maryland, and many other States.
Secretary Vilsack of the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that furloughs, if implemented, of these safety inspectors could cost $10 billion a year in losses and $400 million a year in lost wages just for those directly employed.
The private sector grows and the private sector has opportunity when Federal inspectors are a part of the total ecosystem of poultry in this country. We raise great turkeys, we raise great chickens in this country. We have the world's leading poultry industry, but the Food Safety and Inspection Service is a vital part of it.
I commend Senator Mikulski for her tireless effort to make sure we find some responsible way through the sequester to ensure it does not needlessly harm and put out of work the tens of thousands of Delawareans and Marylanders who rely on this vital industry for their opportunities going forward.
Madam President, I yield the floor.
I suggest the absence of a quorum.
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