The impact of “sequestration” on meat inspection services has been a hot topic in recent weeks, points out Steve Meyer and Len Steiner in the Daily Livestock Report (www.dailylivestockreport.com).

In spite of claims to the contrary, there seems to be little doubt that the administration at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has zeroed in on the issue as one of the best ways to scare people about these budget cuts that Congress imposed upon itself.

USDA and the press have focused on “shortages” that may be caused by idling packing capacity. We are much more concerned about the increase in meat/poultry output that could be caused by slowing the flow of animals through harvest. Put a pencil to the impact on weights of backing up fed cattle and pigs for 11 days. Adding 30-40 lb. to steers and heifers and 13-17 lb. to barrows and gilts may have just a bit of a price impact, don’t you think?

Obviously, not all of the animals would be delayed by 11 days, but the supply impacts are definitely not trivial!

Some help may be on the way, though. Senators Blunt (MO), Risch (ID), Hoeven (ND), Wicker (MS), Johanns (NE), Enzi (WY) and Fischer (NE) have proposed legislation that would require USDA to use its funding to avoid meat inspector furloughs.

According to Lean Trimmings, the newsletter of the North American Meat Association, the proposal would reallocate $55 million and defines as essential employees as those “ . . . that perform work involving the safety of human life or the protection of property as determined by the head of the agency.”

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