While many of you are aware of the forthcoming sequester on March 1, which may result in furloughs within the ranks of 2.1 million federal employees, you may not be aware of how this might affect your food. According to Daniel Werfel, a controller for the Office of Management and Budget, it might result in reduced food inspections by the Department of Agriculture. Not that these guys do such a wonderful job in the first place, but this seems like a really bad idea considering that food fraud was already up 60% last year. From CNN:
At Thursday’s hearing, Werfel said agencies might not be able to avoid furloughs that would reduce essential services. At the Agriculture Department, for example, it’s not possible to avoid furloughs that would result in fewer food inspections, because most of the agency’s expenses are the salaries and benefits of people who perform those tasks.
“So it becomes a math issue, ultimately,” he said. “This is one of the very tangible and clear and significant impacts of sequester: This division within USDA will not be able to make its core mission of sending the inspectors to these locations.”
The exact number of total furloughs planned is still unavailable, since agencies are still deciding how to spread the cuts. It’s possible some agencies may yet be able to spare some employees from furloughs or at least minimize days of unpaid leave.