Pryor said he is worried that his state’s county extension service could be affected if Congress does not approve an extension for the farm bill.
An officer with the Southern Council of Food Inspection Locals, which represents Food Safety and Inspection Service meat inspectors, said via email that his members have not received information about how they would be affected. The inspectors are expected to be classified as essential personnel.
In March, Pryor and Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, ranking Republican on the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, scrambled to win support for a compromise amendment to the fiscal 2013 continuing resolution (PL 113-6) to keep meat and poultry inspectors on the job. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack warned that without additional money he would be forced to furlough the inspectors, which in turn would slow down operations at the nation’s slaughterhouses. Their amendment shifted $55 million from other accounts at the Agriculture Department to keep the inspectors working.
Vilsack told lawmakers the additional funding was necessary because under the sequester he could not order people to work if he did not have money for their salaries. Under a government shutdown scenario, Vilsack said he had the authority to designate essential employees and keep them working without pay.