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The sequestration scheduled for March 1 - automatic budget cuts that were agreed to by the White House and Congress, with the belief that such cuts would force them to reach a more measured and sensible budget agreement - could have a devastating impact on the nation's food supply, according to a report from ProcessingMagazine.com.

An excerpt:

"The U.S. meat industry may be forced to shut down for weeks as a result of the spending cuts planned to take effect on March 1, the White House has warned. The spending cuts are likely to keep meat and poultry inspectors out of manufacturing facilities for at least two weeks, according to a report from Reuters.

"If production has not been inspected, U.S. meat processors and packers are not allowed to shop their production and sell it. The lack of the Agriculture Department's inspection seal will keep the whole production of beef, pork, lamb and poultry within the plants where it has been processed. Representatives of the industry are concerned that the effect on their business might be devastating."

Indeed, the story says that sequestration will force the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service to furlough its employees.
KC's View:
It won't just be meat costs and availability that will be affected. I was just reading a piece in the Washington Post saying that sequestration “would roll back border security, increase wait times at our Nation’s land ports of entry and airports, affect aviation and maritime safety security, leave critical infrastructure vulnerable to attacks, hamper response time and weaken cybersecurity protections." And, the story says, furloughs of air traffic controllers “would result in reduced air traffic control, longer delays, and economic losses for air transportation, tourism and the economy as a whole."

Oy.

I was tending toward the optimistic, working on the assumption that sequestration would have just a negative impact on a fragile economy that our elected officials would never let it happen. But when you read commentators from either side of the aisle, you get the feeling that they're playing a game of chicken. Republicans think the White House will blink and take the blame if sequestration happens, while Democrats think that the GOP-led House of Representatives will back down for fear of taking the blame.

My feeling is that there will be more than enough blame to go around and that there is no excuse for both sides not to reach a big deal that can resolve some of these critical economic issues.