Washington, D.C. –U.S. Senator Deb Fischer announced Tuesday that she has sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack requesting more information regarding the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) plans to furlough meat and poultry inspectors.
Current law requires the federal government to cut $85 billion through a budget-cutting process known as sequestration by the end of the fiscal year.
The letter, cosigned by seven other Republican senators, calls into question recent comments by Secretary Vilsack suggesting that USDA must furlough inspection employees, regardless of statutory duties to provide health and safety inspections.
"Nebraskans expect their leaders in Washington to cut out-of-control spending, line-by-line. Yet they also know government has core duties to fulfill, such as ensuring the health of consumers," said Fischer.
Fischer said she knows budget cuts should, and will, happen but that priorities must be made.
"Instead of jeopardizing the safety and availability of meat and poultry products, or hurting Nebraska's workers and facilities, USDA should focus on finding ways to implement the required cuts that minimize their negative impact on our food supply," Fischer said.
USDA has suggested that it will shut down meat and poultry plants for as many as 15 days, costing more than $10 billion in production losses and reducing the availability of meat and poultry products.