Pryor introduced the amendment with Senator Roy Blunt (R. MO) ans passed in the Senate by 73-26:The final Senate bill did ease the hit of the automatic cuts known as sequestration somewhat, especially those that could hurt vulnerable Democrats. For instance, an amendment adopted Wednesday transferred $55 million to federal meat and poultry inspectors from other agriculture programs to make sure food plants can stay in operation, a plan championed by Senator Mark Pryor, an Arkansas Democrat facing re-election next year. - New York Times, 3/20/13
Pryor and Blunt are the leaders of the Senate subcommittee that oversees the USDA's budget. And of course the meat packing industry is grateful:The Pryor/Blunt amendment will protect Americans’ jobs at meat, poultry, and egg production facilities nationwide. It’s estimated that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) projected food inspector furloughs would have closed nearly 6,300 food inspection facilities across America. As a result, over 500,000 industry workers would have lost nearly $400 million in wages. - AG Wired, 3/21/13
In Chicago, Joe Ocrant, president of Oak Investment Group, said "Whether it passes or not it shows that the government will find the money to not disrupt meat production in the United States,"Don't worry, I'm not going to ask you to donate to Pryor's campaign but I will at least give him a thank you for protecting funding for meat inspection. Now can we just get rid of that whole sequester thing? That would be great.
Meat packers and processors would have to close plants during a furlough because they cannot operate without USDA inspectors on the scene. Billions of dollars in production could be lost in a lengthy furlough.
Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle futures closed higher after being lower early, but investors said the rebound had more to do with the oversold condition of the market and less about Senate's decision on Wednesday.
"Over the last week the industry has worked extremely hard to get Congress to understand this issue and it appears to have made some progress," Jim Robb, director of the Colorado-based Livestock Marketing Information Center, said of the meat inspectors.
"The lack of understanding by USDA of the implications are apparent," he said. - Drovers Cattle Network, 3/21/13