AGRIBUSINESS: Johanns Questions Vilsack on FSIS Furloughs

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Nebraska Senator Mike Johanns is asking U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack why he never requested funding flexibility from Congressional Appropriators to avoid furloughing crucial employees like food safety inspectors.

Johanns says USDA has had more than a year-and-a-half to prepare for these spending reductions. During that time - he says the Secretary - among other spending changes - asked Congress to provide funds to the Department of Interior to roundup wild horses and requested additional funds to process the 2012 Census of Agriculture.

But Johanns says Secretary Vilsack never requested to prioritize keeping food safety inspectors on the job. In a letter to the Secretary - Senator Johanns asks Vilsack to explain why food safety inspection did not rise to the level of these other priorities.