Get ready for a meat shortage

The Agriculture Department warns that the looming budget sequester could idle federal inspectors of meat and poultry plants for two weeks.

By Aimee Picchi Feb 20, 2013 2:31PM

Packaged ground beef (© Frank Bean/Uppercut RF/Getty Images)It's something shoppers don't give a lot of attention to when buying hamburger or chicken breasts: the little circle that verifies the meat has been inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But without that stamp, meat can't be sold by packers and processors.


That's bad news because the looming U.S. government sequester means meat and poultry plants won't be able to receive their inspections, potentially leading to a shortage of everything from prime rib to chicken wings.


The sequester -- slated for March 1, unless Congress finds a way to sidestep the start of $85 billion in mandated federal budget cuts -- would keep meat inspection personnel from going to work for as many as 15 days, according to a letter from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack that the U.S. Department of Agriculture released and was reported by Reuters.


Such a "nationwide shutdown of meat and poultry plants during a furlough of (meat) inspection personnel" could lead to $10 billion in production losses, Vilsack wrote. 


Meat and poultry industry groups are alarmed at the prospect, with organizations such as the Poultry Federation and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association sending a letter to Vilsack earlier this month. 


Their letter, which asks that the USDA avoid furloughing its inspectors, notes the shutdown would have wide-ranging effects. 


"Farmers raising livestock and poultry would have nowhere to send their animals and would have to shoulder substantial losses," it reads. "And, most alarming, American consumers could face their first widespread shortage of meat, poultry, and egg products in generations."


Vilsack didn't say when the furloughs would begin, although he told USDA employees earlier this month they'd get at least 30 days notice, according to Reuters. 


Meat production isn't all that would be affected. Other layoffs by the Agriculture Department would mean 600,000 low-income women and infants would be cut from the WIC program, which supplies food and nutritional education, Reuters notes. About 9 million pregnant women, new moms and their children use the program.


The Forest Service would also close 670 of its 19,000 recreation sites, probably during spring and summer, and cut 35 workers from its law enforcement force. 


More on moneyNOW

307Comments
Feb 20, 2013 4:23PM
avatar
They should stop slaughtering and selling meat in stores,  as well as eating it, that would create some good karma for the planet wouldn`t that become a peaceful earth.
Feb 20, 2013 4:20PM
avatar
another thing to get the price up the same way they do with gas .what they called spectulators, beef was suppose to go up like 7% this year well its 100%. must be nice to own stock and be a spewctulator on top of it. if anyone deserves to die for terriorism its them
Feb 20, 2013 4:20PM
avatar
This is BS  The  meat processors pay for these inspectors
Feb 20, 2013 4:17PM
Feb 20, 2013 4:16PM
avatar
PLENTY OF FOOD RUNNING AROUND IN NATURES SHOPPING MARKET!!! LIBERALS WITH NO GUNS  EAT YOUR GREENS!!!
Feb 20, 2013 4:13PM
avatar

This is nothing to joke about.  Shutting down the meat industry for 2 weeks could weaken it enough to cause a complete collapse.  Debt is real.  Even more so if you are industial and have thousands of employees to pay and massive loan positions like much of the industry.  We could lose major players for good in that short amount of time.

Feb 20, 2013 4:13PM
avatar
Yet another story that the loser Repugnicans have to do their whining about by trying to make it a bash Obama story.   Get over yourselves.  You lost now go to your corner and pout but leave us the heck alone.  Tired of reading your CRAP!!!!!!
Feb 20, 2013 4:11PM
avatar
How about Vilsack laying himself off first and keep the inspectors going?????????????
Feb 20, 2013 4:11PM
avatar

Oh no, now we've done it.

We pissed off the Agriculture department with budget cuts and their gonna take away our meat.

Feb 20, 2013 4:09PM
avatar
the foreign aid keeps flowing ,,hand outs to green energy,,AF1 keeps flying more than some airlines,,,and we the people take it in the shorts first,,,why would you want crap like this in power????
Feb 20, 2013 4:09PM
avatar
yep, IF you get your meat at the supermarket......
Feb 20, 2013 4:06PM
avatar

You can thank the weasels on both sides of the isle. Their spending on pet projects along with our government not operating like a business for years is catching up.

 

Federal gov't spending is out of control.

 

Give me a copy of the budget and a red marker I am sure their is 20% of the spending that goes towards absolute ****.

Feb 20, 2013 4:06PM
avatar

"...would keep meat inspection personnel from going to work for as many as 15 days,"

 

"Farmers raising livestock and poultry would have nowhere to send their animals and would have to shoulder substantial losses,"

 

 

Any farmer who cant keep animals alive an additional 15 days need to go out of business!!

Feb 20, 2013 4:06PM
avatar

Yep, March 1 is just 8 days away...I can hear the old theme from the cop drama, "Dragnet"....."Dom, de, dom, dom, DOM!" ...This is Los Angeles, 800 square miles, my boss is Capt. Slawson, homicide.  The GOP, incl. the saturnine, gloomy Rep. Boehner and his fellow Obama hater, the owlish, funereal Sen. McConnell (go Ms. Judd in Kentucky!) will take the gaff on the so called mass firing starting on the first of March.  Yes, I've never been in lockstep with every  Demo prez and their  policies, and that includes Obama.  He should have put forth his jobs plan over Labor Day, 2009, not in 2011, for example.  Pull out of that graveyard of empires, Afghanistan by next June, not at the end of '14.....

avatar

WHAT???

 

there were fewer than 88 meat inspectors (including the clerical staff) for every 1 billion pounds of meat sold in the US and that was in 2007 I am sure the number is fewer now.

 

So taking the number of meat inspectors from 88 per 1 billion to 80 inspectors would not be a crisis as we are already having a crisis.

 

No wonder we can food poisoning stories every month no one is watching the industry.

 

understand if the inspectors see feces in the meat processing plant going into the meat itself they are not allowed to report it and nothing gets done.

 

Totally gross -- how do the Hebrew people eat meat??? surely nothing they buy at the normal stores is approved.

Feb 20, 2013 4:04PM
avatar
Of course they "lay off" the little guy.  Hey Washington, we are targeting your fat a$$es not the little guy that actually earns money and keeps things moving....  Reminds me of the teachers union...
Feb 20, 2013 4:02PM
avatar
Many people feel they must eat meat 3 times a day - at every meal. That is a formula for intestinal or colon cancer. Meat has no fiber and cannot be easily digested. Try eating meat just 2 or 3 times a week instead. Try eating a few greens and vegetables, it won't hurt you.
Feb 20, 2013 4:01PM
avatar
It would be so refreshing to get really competent individuals to govern  the various departments in DC.  Naturally, that includes the US Postal Service. 
Report
Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
Categories
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?

DATA PROVIDERS

Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.

Trending NOW

What’s this?

MARKET UPDATE

[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market climbed out of the gate with the industrial sector (+0.6%) setting the pace. Looking below the surface, transport stocks are largely responsible for the early outperformance following better than expected results from FedEx (FDX 160.46, +5.80). The logistics company has added 3.9%, while the broader Dow Jones Transportation Average trades up 1.3% with all but one component showing gains. Shipper Matson (MATX 27.36, -0.03) is the lone decliner, down ... More

MSN MONEY'S