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USDA Meat Inspectors Facing Layoffs - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

USDA Meat Inspectors Facing Layoffs

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Congress continues to struggle with the looming spending cuts set to kick in on March 1st. Their most recent idea? A two-week layoff across the country for about six thousand USDA meat inspectors.

 

As Valley News Live reports, some agriculture experts say that might have you digging deeper into your pocket for your favorite cut of meat.

It's just a little stamp of approval, and it might seem like a minor detail, but for people in the meat business like Jason Aamodt, self-proclaimed meat man extraordinaire at Meats by John and Wayne in south Fargo it's a big deal, "it's everything, ...we sell a USDA choice product."

It's no exaggeration; no meat can leave the meat processor without a USDA stamp of approval.

In an attempt to come closer to balancing the budget, the feds have proposed laying off about six thousand USDA meat inspectors for two weeks in March. Meat specialist Robert Maddock at DSU's meat lab says business will simply come to a halt if the feds take away the inspectors: "For example, here at NSDU, our inspector is here daily, and we couldn't operate. We couldn't do this without inspection."

NDSU would also need to cancel numerous classes if they had no meat inspector on-site, and professors say the temporary break would hurt the industry as a whole.

There are currently about 8,500 USDA inspectors working in slaughterhouses, processing plants, and in communities across the country, and, according to Maddock, the proposed 71% cut wouldn't just be something you'd noticed on the news; local businesses would feel the impact: "Like Valley Meats in Valley City, or ... even Pizza Corner has USDA inspectors there."

Public health officials including meat inspectors are paid with tax dollars, and when the budget needs balancing, publicly-funded jobs start to land on the chopping block.

Maddock says the statewide impact would be tough not just for business, but for the individuals who work at the plants, too: "One of the largest [plants] in North Dakota is Cloverdale and Mandan with several hundred employees, and those employees wouldn't be able to work if there was no inspection."

Whether your personal pocketbook will feel the effects of the layoffs remains to be seen, but, Maddock says, the laws of supply and demand mean it's likely: "if a government action decreases the supply of meat, it may trickle through to higher meat prices."

 

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