The House has voted to cut $106 million from the president’s request for $1.036 billion for meat inspections by the Department of Agriculture. That money would help pay for the inspectors who oversee the 6,300 plants that process the nation’s meat and poultry supply.
To ensure the safety of these products, inspectors must be on site at all times. If they’re not, the plant must stop work. House Democrats say the budget cuts would require 37 to 40 furlough days for many of the 8,600 inspectors. Even a conservative estimate would put the loss of meat and poultry production at about $11 billion over the next seven months — a very large dent in the $177 billion annual business. It could also make a large dent in Americans’ household budgets, as reduced supplies drive up costs.
After recent problems with tainted peanut butter, spinach, nuts and eggs, Congress gave the Food and Drug Administration new authority and responsibility to monitor food safety. The House’s $129 million cut would seriously impede its ability to do that job, putting the health of American consumers at risk. We are all for savings, but these proposed cuts make no sense at all.