Today the U.S. Senate passed an amendment to the Senate Continuing Resolution (CR) cosponsored by U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) to solve a funding gap for the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). The amendment preserves private sector jobs and makes certain American consumers are able to purchase safe and affordable meat products.
"The amendment minimizes the impacts of sequestration by eliminating job furloughs that would negatively impact meat inspectors and consumers in Kansas and America," Sen. Moran said. "We can and must be smarter with our spending decisions and make cuts in ways that do not intentionally inflict hardship and aggravation upon the American people."
As a result of sequestration, Secretary Thomas Vilsack of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has indicated there will likely be furloughs of meat and poultry product inspectors. Inspections are required under the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) and the Poultry Products Inspections Act (PPIA). Without inspectors, meat and poultry production facilities would be shut down, products would stop flowing to grocery store shelves, and the availability of safe and affordable products would be limited.
The amendment preserves an estimated 6,300 food inspection facilities across America, which translates to more than 500,000 industry workers and $400 million in wages. It transfers $55 million in existing agriculture funds to FSIS in order to make certain food inspectors are not furloughed. The 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 USDA.
Sen. Moran also sent a letter to the USDA Secretary Thomas Vilsack urging him to minimize the impact of sequestration.
The CR will now move to conference where the differences between the Senate and House versions will be reconciled. If included in the final CR, the meat inspector jobs will not be furloughed and consumers will not be impacted.