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Louisiana Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain. (American Press Archives)

Louisiana Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain. (American Press Archives)

Strain: Sequestration could cost state's farmers billions

Last Modified: Thursday, February 28, 2013 8:06 PM

By Lance Traweek / American Press

Furloughs of meat and food inspectors due to sequestration, or extensive cuts to government agencies, will cost Louisiana farmers $4 billion and may affect the availability of meat and produce for consumers, state Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain said Thursday.

The Food Safety and Inspection Service will conduct more than 2,000 fewer inspections of food starting today.

“The big issue is if you furlough those meat inspectors at those plants, there will be a loss of supply going to our consumers,” Strain said during the monthly Republican Women of Southwest Louisiana luncheon. “After 7-10 days there will be a noticeable effect at the grocery market.”

He said there will be a “lack of appropriate foods on the shelf.”

Louisiana’s farmers, who bring in close to $11 billion annually, are expected to lose $4 billion because of the “backlog of commerce” due to the sequestration. Strain said he does not know when or how that will happen but that prices will go up.

“If those federal inspectors are not there, then the plant cannot process anything,” he said. “That’s under the law.”

Strain said the issue with sequestration is that Congress “must face the fact that they are spending more than they are taking in. The budget is nonsustainable.”

The reason sequestration was set up was to force the federal government to deal with the issue, he said. But, he added, the “sky will not fall” because of sequestration, though consumers “will feel something.”

“We will be able to get through this,” he said. “But there is no alternative to a balanced budget.”

Strain also discussed ways to improve agriculture in the state, including greater access to markets by increasing the state’s ability to export goods. He said the state needs to continue to set up rules and regulations to cultivate the agricultural industry, but no law should be created to stifle growth. Bad policies could be the downfall of “the golden age of agriculture,” he said.

“Our role in government is to facilitate commerce and to provide for the health, safety and security of our citizens,” he said. “We know what is best for our state — not Washington.”

Posted By: Joe Bleaux On: 3/2/2013

Title: I'm from da Gubmint and I'm here to help!

Why are food inspectors federal? Seems a good time to pass legislation allowing state control. The less uncle SAMs involved the better.

Posted By: tiredofitall On: 3/2/2013

Title: Oletimer1

So Strain is drinking the progressive cool-aid also?

Posted By: david7134 On: 3/1/2013

Title: Junk

A cut of 2% in the increase in the Federal spending is going to cause this much of a problem. I seriously doubt we will even notice it. We need to stop spending money. It it means a decrease in the TSA, DEA, and all the other agencies, then lets get rid of them and get them out of our lives.

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