Legislation has been introduced in the Senate to preserve current staffing levels of USDA inspectors in meat plants. This comes as the department is promoting a new model that would cut the federal inspection force. Under a 15 year old pilot program, 50 percent of inspectors have been cut in five hog plants. Nebraska Pork Producers President Shane Meyer says he likes the intent of the legislation.
The pilot program also allows processing line speeds to be increased by 20 percent in hog plants. Meyer says while it’s good to be efficient, keeping safety at the forefront is critical.
The legislation would require USDA to work with other federal agencies to determine which rates processing line speeds can move at while also ensuring the safety of plant workers. Meyer says since everyone is a consumer, safety must be the priority.
Besides the hog inspection cuts in the pilot program, poultry inspections have been cut 40 percent.