With just over a week to go before budget sequestration is set to go into effect, it is becoming increasingly likely the March 1 deadline will come and go without an agreement by Congress and the President on a fiscal agreement to avoid the automatic cuts, according to a report today from the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA).
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told the American Meat Institute that sequestration, which would impose across the board cuts to most federal spending, would force the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to furlough Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) meat inspectors.
As the specter of the March 1 deadline looms, a number of plans to delay or avoid sequestration have emerged. One plan, introduced last week by Senate Democrats and set to be voted on next week, would delay the automatic cuts until January 2014 by cutting defense spending and direct payments, while also raising additional revenue.
The plan would eliminate direct payments and use $3.5 billion of those savings to extend 24 of the 37 expiring portions of the 2008 Farm Bill that weren't extended by the Fiscal Cliff bill, such as disaster assistance and some energy programs. The remaining $27.5 billion would go to avoiding the sequester cuts across federal agencies.