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

315Comments
Feb 20, 2013 3:56PM
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Oh now they want to play the fear game..

 

Layoff congress 1st morons...

Feb 20, 2013 3:50PM
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The American people may suffer from meat &

poultry shortages, but I bet that The White

House won't be short any pork bellies @ dinner time!!!

Feb 20, 2013 3:52PM
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I AM OLD ENOUGH TO REMEMBER MEAT RATIONING DURING WW2.  THERE WASN'T ANY MEAT FOR MONTHS.  EAT PASTA LIKE WE DID, EXPECIALLY DURING LENT.  WE ALSO ATE HORSE MEAT......AMAZING HOW WE SURVIED BY GOING TO THE FARMS AND BUYING BEEF AND PORK FROM THE FARMERS.......NO GOVERNMENT INSPECTION.
Feb 20, 2013 3:50PM
Feb 20, 2013 3:59PM
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That is not going to stop the farmer from selling his product on the open market.

It could be a lot cheaper than todays prices,in other words buy straight from the source.

Nobody,nowdays likes big government Democrats or Republicans they think we the people can't live or eat without them.

Feb 20, 2013 3:59PM
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Another Obama and main stream media scare tactic. Fact is this has happened before and each state stepped in and hired the inspectors as a temp. contractors to inspect the meat. There was no shortage of meat then and there won't be non comming unless Obama's goons forbid the inspectors from inspecting, which would be against the law.

 Some states also have their own meat inspectors. Again this story is a bunch of BS designed to put the scare into people NBC should be ashamed to make such an out right false report. They should quit trying to kiss Obama's butt and start being reporters of the truth again.     

Feb 20, 2013 4:09PM
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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 3:59PM
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You can count on there being a shortage. It is just one part of a bigger plan that has many parts. People can not see what is coming and will not see until it hits them square in the face!
Feb 20, 2013 4:06PM
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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 3:45PM
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Don't worry ...with OBUMMER care there will be plenty to eat in the future..SOYLENT GREEN will be on the market soon.
Feb 20, 2013 4:01PM
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It would be so refreshing to get really competent individuals to govern  the various departments in DC.  Naturally, that includes the US Postal Service. 
Feb 20, 2013 3:43PM
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@Al Roll, 

Only because Obama is too busy taking away civil liberties.....
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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 4:06PM
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"...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 3:57PM
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This is a Left Wing Vegetarian Conspiracy
Feb 20, 2013 4:11PM
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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 3:44PM
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No bacon!?!?!? ARGHHHHHHHH!

God bless you.......Mikey™
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