Brownback warns that Washington budget cuts could shutter meat plants

Gov. Sam Brownback

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback warned that Kansas meat processing plants may shut down if automatic federal budget cuts lead the Obama Administration to temporarily layoff meat inspectors.

In a letter sent Thursday to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Brownback and Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Dale Rodman said that Vilsack’s recent comments about sequestration cuts leading to furloughs for meat inspectors is a major concern for Kansas because lack of inspections would cause an excess of market-ready animals that can’t be shipped out of state or sold.

“In addition, consumers will face limited meat supplies and potentially higher prices,” Brownback and Rodman warned in the letter.

That’s because meat that is not inspected can’t be sold.

At least one federal official has said the potential furloughs could be staggered to avoid such meat production shutdowns, according to CNBC.

Vilsack said it could take months before the furloughs would happen.

Kansas is home to several major meat packing plants, and Brownback said lagging inspections could cost the state industry hundreds of millions.

To learn more about the beef industry in Kansas and elsewhere, see a recent project by the Kansas City Star.