Last week during his speech to the delegates of the American Farm Bureau Federation's annual meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack dropped an unexpected bomb with the announcement of the closing of some key USDA offices and laboratories. Colin Woodall with the National Cattlemen's Beef Association has some details that they're not happy about.
"They are closing a research facility in Florida that does all the research on subtropical diseases, which is huge for our producers in the Southern United States," Woodall said. "They claim that they can do that same exact research in either Miles City, Mont., or Clay Center, Neb., and granted those are two great facilities but we have a hard time figuring out how they are going to replicate South Florida, South Texas, Southeastern type of production systems up there in Nebraska and Montana, so we have some big concerns there."
Woodall also says they are very concerned that some of the closures were Food Safety Inspection Services offices and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service offices.
"That is also a concern to us because we cannot find ourselves in a situation where we do not have the inspectors or the services to ensure that our packing plants are adequately inspected and we keep the food safe, and to make sure we have the inspectors in place to keep our domestic herd safe from disease, two important functions of both FSIS and APHIS."
Woodall says NCBA has been having some conversations concerning the closings with USDA.
"They keep telling us that all of the stations that have been closed and personal that will be leaving were not a part of those day-to-day operations but we're going to do a little more digging to see that for ourselves.