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Mar 13, 2013

USDA details some furlough plans; horse slaughter ban mulled

WASHINGTON, March 13 (Reuters) – All U.S. meat inspectors
will be furloughed on the same days as the federal meat safety
agency, a top USDA official said, leading to spotty meat
shortages in the summer and fall as automatic spending cuts
shave $53 million off the agency’s budget.

Agriculture Undersecretary Elizabeth Hagen told a House
Appropriations subcommittee on Wednesday that the furloughs,
expected to total 11 days before the end of September, were
likely to begin in mid-July. None of the days would come
consecutively, she added.

Mar 12, 2013

Budget cuts force USDA to halt cattle inventory, milk reports

WASHINGTON, March 12 (Reuters) – Automatic budget cuts have
forced the U.S. Department of Agriculture to suspend publication
of 10 statistical reports, including an upcoming semiannual
cattle inventory and monthly milk production data, for the rest
of the fiscal year, the agency said on Tuesday.

Some $1.9 billion in USDA funding was eliminated by the
cuts, which took effect on March 1.

Mar 12, 2013

Republicans seek farm subsidy cuts, mull food stamps to cash

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republicans in the House of Representatives on Tuesday proposed $31 billion in farm subsidy cuts and the conversion of food stamps into a cash benefit program, as a way to help balance the federal budget in 10 years.

The proposal, signed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, left it to the Agriculture Committee to pick the specific cuts, but cited the $5 billion-a-year “direct payment” subsidy, paid regardless of need, and the heavily subsidized federal crop insurance program as areas worthy of review.

Mar 11, 2013

As cuts loom, US farm groups look for lower-cost crop subsidies

WASHINGTON, March 11 (Reuters) – U.S. farm groups are
looking for a formula to lower crop subsidy spending
dramatically and end regional infighting ahead of new
congressional demands for cuts in a farm bill now costing $10
billion more than planned.

Chairman Paul Ryan of the House Budget Committee was
expected to call for deep cuts in agricultural programs on
Tuesday. The cuts could be larger than the $30 billion from farm
subsidies and crop insurance that Ryan proposed last year,
lobbyists said.

Mar 8, 2013

U.S. plan to resolve meat-origin label fight draws fire

WASHINGTON, March 8 (Reuters) – The United States on Friday
sought to address a long-running trade dispute by proposing
stricter rules for labeling meat, but its proposal quickly drew
criticism from the Canadian government, which said the plan
falls short and vowed to continue fighting it.

The meat labeling rules at the center of the dispute aim to
help consumers identify the country that produced the beef,
pork, chicken and lamb sold in U.S. grocery stores.

Mar 6, 2013

Leaked e-mail leads traders to fear worst from USDA furloughs

WASHINGTON, March 6 (Reuters) – A leaked Agriculture
Department e-mail briefly rattled the U.S. livestock market on
Wednesday as traders treated it as an omen for meat packers due
to budget cuts that could furlough thousands of U.S. meat
inspectors later this year.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has said USDA will cushion
the impact on the meat industry and consumers as much as
possible. Still, there could be brief plant-by-plant shutdowns
and spotty meat shortages, although months in the future.

Mar 6, 2013

Conservatives call for big cut in U.S. crop insurance subsidy

WASHINGTON, March 5 (Reuters) – A coalition of fiscal
conservatives on Tuesday called for a steep cut in federal
subsidies for crop insurance, setting up a clash with U.S. farm
groups that see the program as their top priority in a new farm
bill.

Growers have collected more than $15 billion in payments for
2012 losses resulting from the worst U.S. drought since the
1930s. Of that total, the cost to the government could be $10
billion.

Mar 5, 2013

Meat inspector furloughs to hurt, but months away -USDA

WASHINGTON, March 5 (Reuters) – The U.S. Agriculture
Department could try to concentrate potential furloughs of meat
inspectors into the final quarter of the fiscal year,
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told lawmakers on Tuesday.

Vilsack, warning of disruptions in the meat industry, said
the agency would send notices of furloughs to meat inspectors
this week, but it will be several months before they will occur.

Feb 27, 2013

Meat plant shutdowns inevitable in budget cuts: USDA

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. meat packers and processors face short-term shutdowns because of impending federal budget cuts but the administration will try to minimize the impact on the industry and consumers, the Agriculture Department said on Tuesday.

The automatic cuts, also called sequestration, are due to take effect on Friday because Congress and the White House are unable to agree on other ways to reduce the federal deficit. USDA says the cuts would force it to lay off its 8,400 meat inspectors for 15 days to produce the savings ordered for its food safety agency.

Feb 27, 2013

Meat plant shutdowns inevitable in U.S. budget cuts -USDA

WASHINGTON, Feb 26 (Reuters) – U.S. meat packers and
processors face short-term shutdowns because of impending
federal budget cuts but the administration will try to minimize
the impact on the industry and consumers, the Agriculture
Department said on Tuesday.

The automatic cuts, also called sequestration, are due to
take effect on Friday because Congress and the White House are
unable to agree on other ways to reduce the federal deficit.
USDA says the cuts would force it to lay off its 8,400 meat
inspectors for 15 days to produce the savings ordered for its
food safety agency.