Federal Budget Cuts

7 Mar

Hard-fought-for laws and regulations to save lives and the environment will be gutted or eliminated in budget cuts passed by the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives or ordered by President Barack Obama’s team, experts say.

One cut would include The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration. Neither agency was spared from debilitating cuts, experts say, threatening the safety of he nation’s food supply and preventing the agencies from even doing specifically what Congress and the Obama White House had demanded.

Obama’s budget did not grant additional funds requested to meet White House and congressional demands to assure the safety of meats and monitor foreign-produced food arriving at our ports. Programs for federal meat inspection, international food safety inspection and state food safety inspection were hit hard, for safety experts said.

“We are cutting programs not because we want to, but because we have to,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who then added, “American families have been forced to tighten their belts, and government must do the same.”

Food safety advocates say the cuts will endanger the food supply.

Patty Lovera, assistant director of Food & Water Watch, said that the cuts make no sense and points to an expected 500 million-pound increase in the amount of beef and poultry slaughtered this year.

“The president cuts the resources for meat inspection, even while admitting that USDA inspectors will have an increased amount of meat and poultry to inspect next year. It also fails to give the FDA enough resources to put the newly passed food safety reform bill into effect on schedule,” she said.

USDA rules say that meat cannot be released for market without the presence of a USDA inspector.

Without the funding, the agency has no plans to supplement the number of inspectors in these processing plants to meet to higher volume of meat.

This means that the speed of slaughter lines will increase, as will pressure on already overworked inspectors. The obvious result is the likelihood of bad meat and poultry showing up in groceries and butcher shops, said Wenonah Hauter, Food & Water Watch’s executive director.

A few more cuts that could effect the Ozarks…

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