You choose, we deliver
If you are interested in this story, you might be interested in others from The Journal Gazette. Go to www.journalgazette.net/newsletter and pick the subjects you care most about. We'll deliver your customized daily news report at 3 a.m. Fort Wayne time, right to your email.

Business

  • Consumer confidence leaps to 90s
    U.S. consumers are more confident about the economy than they have been in nearly seven years.The Conference Board said Tuesday that its confidence index rose to 90.9 in July from an upwardly revised ...
  • Local GM cancels 4 shifts
    A lack of parts has forced officials at General Motors Co.’s Allen County truck assembly plant to cancel at least four shifts this week.But workers will have to make up the unexpected time off.G ...
  • 1 in 3 Americans in trouble with debt collectors
    More than 35 percent of Americans have debts and unpaid bills that have been reported to collection agencies, according to a study released Tuesday by the Urban Institute.These consumers fall behind o ...
Advertisement

Ag chiefs spar on sequester

Farm Bureau criticizes ‘blame game’ of USDA leader

Vilsack

If Congress fails to act, thousands of Hoosier farmers will face reduced direct payments and the public would be at a higher risk of foodborne illnesses because of fewer inspectors, the nation’s top agriculture official said.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack spoke with The Journal Gazette on Wednesday about how federal spending cuts known as sequestration could affect Indiana farmers. He said much uncertainty exists, but the onus is clearly on lawmakers.

“Congress has to focus on its job,” he said in a telephone interview. “The country needs certainty. They need to make the tough decisions that they’ve already asked the department to do.”

Nationwide, about 700,000 federal jobs will be affected in some way, Vilsack said.

Allen County Farm Bureau President Roger Hadley said the sky isn’t falling.

“You have an administration that is playing the blame game and trying to get everybody excited by bringing out these worst-case scenarios,” he said. “Like saying there won’t be enough inspectors. That’s a bunch of B.S.”

Dramatic reductions in agriculture and other industries are months away, he said. Hadley said he isn’t downplaying the massive federal spending cuts that started phasing in Friday, but he said there is enough time on the clock for something to be done.

“Instead of out campaigning, the president should be buckling down in D.C. and trying to get stuff done,” Hadley said. “The administration is trying to get enough people mad to get Congress to do what it wants it to do.”

Vilsack said the impact should not be taken lightly. A nationwide shutdown of meat and poultry plants during a furlough of inspection personnel would result in $10 billion in production losses and more than $400 million in lost wages, he said.

Consumers could face limited supplies and higher prices.

“The public could suffer,” Vilsack said.

The ag chief also noted that the farming industry could lose more than $60 million for agricultural research.

pwyche@jg.net

Advertisement