January 20, 2020

Budget- Farm Bill; Ag Economy; Regulations; and, Immigration

Budget- Farm Bill, Policy Issues

Damian Paletta reported in today’s Wall Street Journal that, “Federal workers are expected to begin taking unpaid leave by late March or early April if the government absorbs $85 billion in spending cuts set to start March 1, according to estimates from different agencies.

“Even though the process begins March 1, many federal agencies must notify employees 30 days before beginning furloughs. That means the eventual impact of the cuts at many agencies could be slow-moving and give Congress and the White House more time to negotiate an alternative to the cuts—something both sides say they favor.”

The Journal article pointed out that, “Also causing consternation is a dispute about whether federal agencies have more flexibility than they claim to redirect the effects of the cuts.

Federal law requires U.S. meat and poultry inspectors to be on site when plants are operating. The American Meat Institute, a group that represents the majority of the meat and poultry industry, has recently pleaded with the U.S. Department of Agriculture not to furlough inspectors at meat plants, worried that the plants would be temporarily shut down and production would halt. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a letter to the organization last week that such furloughs would be a ‘last option’ but ultimately unavoidable.

“USDA has said that to account for a $51 million cut in its food-safety branch, it plans to furlough meat inspectors for 15 days at more than 6,000 meat-production facilities in the U.S.”