The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

February 16, 2013

Meat market faces shutdown

Inspector furloughs likely under looming sequestration

By Rick Dandes
The Daily Item

— WATSONTOWN — “Where’s the beef?” may become more than a catchy advertising phrase if Congress allows the $85 billion in sequester cuts to take effect March 1.

Those widespread cuts could result in the meat industry closing temporarily, because all meat and poultry inspectors would be furloughed for two weeks.

And without their seals of approval, meat packers and processors can’t ship beef, pork, lamb and poultry.

An estimated $10 billion in production would be lost during a two-week furlough, and consumers could see higher prices and empty shelves, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says.

Gary Truckenmiller, of Watsontown, has 90 cows, and while primarily a dairy farmer, he couldn’t believe what could happen.

“I can’t imagine the government doing this, even for a short while,” Truckenmiller, owner of Dry Run Dairy Farm, said Friday night. “I think this is all politics, where you are using scare tactics to force a deal. But yes, you need inspectors or you can’t ship out certain products. It would be a bad thing for everyone.”