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March 21, 2013   Email to Friend 

Debra Davis
March 21, 2013

The continuing resolution passed by the Senate allows money in USDA's budget to be transferred to the agency's Food Safety and Inspection Service to pay for meat inspectors. Without that flexibility, meat inspectors would have been furloughed.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Senate on Wednesday passed a continuing resolution to keep the government open beyond March 27, when the current continuing resolution expires. The newest CR would fund the government through Sept. 30, 2013, the end of fiscal 2013.

The bill allows Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to move funds around and avoid furloughing federal meat inspectors in order to meet sequestration requirements, which took effect March 1. Without that flexibility, 11 days of furloughs for meat inspectors would be necessary between July and September. About $55 million from USDA’s buildings maintenance and school equipment grants will be transferred to the Food Safety and Inspection Service to pay for meat inspectors.

The House Budget Committee will now consider the bill. Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., recently said changes to the Senate bill would be unlikely.

“As long as they hit the numbers, we’re good to go,” Ryan said. “I have every reason to believe that’s the case.”

Members of the Alabama Farmers Federation were in Washington last week, and furloughs of USDA meat inspector were discussed. U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., who spoke to Federation members, is a member of the House Committee on Appropriations and is chairman of its Subcommittee on Agriculture. He said the Obama administration used scare tactics to magnify the impact of sequestration; however he was pleased with the Senate's proposal.

“While continuing resolutions are not an ideal way to operate, the legislation passed today cuts wasteful Washington spending and avoids a government shut down,” said Aderholt.

Aderholt said he was pleased that USDA inspectors wouldn't be furloughed, but added that he was disappointed it took an act of Congress to get the administration "to do the right thing."

"I am grateful to Senators Pryor and Blunt for offering a common-sense solution to this funding gap and helping us protect American families and producers,” Aderholt said.

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