- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 10, 2013

The White House warned Friday that spending cuts set to take effect in March may result in furloughing every U.S. meat and poultry inspector for two weeks, causing the meat industry to shut down, Reuters reports.

Packers and processors are not allowed to ship meat without the Agriculture Department’s inspection seal.

“USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service may have to furlough all employees for approximately two weeks,” the White House said in a statement.

Nearly $10 billion would be lost during the two-week furlough, a USDA official told Reuters. Consumers can expect to see shortages and higher prices on meat during that time.

The USDA spends about $1 billion a year on meat safety and has 8,400 inspectors at 6,290 slaughterhouses and processing plants, according to Reuters.

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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