Looming Federal Cuts Could Impact Agriculture Industry - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Looming Federal Cuts Could Impact Agriculture Industry

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DOVER, Del. - Mary Bobola is one of the owners of Bobola Farm and Florist in Dover.

She says news of looming federal cuts prompting inspector furloughs doesn't sit well with her.

"Last night I saw it on the computer and I just couldn't believe it. I was like, 'This is crazy,'" said Bobola.

According to the Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc., federal establishments cannot produce chicken products without federal inspection.

Furloughing inspectors would shut down Delmarva's chicken industry for more than two weeks.

"Our poultry that we grow can't be delivered to be processed. The chickens that are being grown that would come to us couldn't be delivered because we still have our big chickens," said Bobola.

That could mean empty grocery store shelves. 

DPI Executive Director Bill Satterfield sent a letter to legislators expressing many farmers' frustrations.

Satterfield said, "Cutting an essential, legally-mandated program such as food safety inspection is not the way to address the government's budget deficit."

As for farmers like Bobola, she does not see an alternative to the cuts.

"When chickens are hatched at the hatchery, they have to go to a poultry house. There's no where else for them to go. It's not like the hatcheries have somewhere warm to put them like we do. so, it would just be a mess," said Bobola.

Bobola says it's a mess she's hoping gets cleaned up soon.

The cuts would also hit farmers in their wallets.

Farmers and chicken companies will pay more for electricity, gas, and feed to keep the birds alive for the days the processing plants cannot operate.

The National Chicken Council, along with 37 organizations, wrote a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to express their concerns.

Part of that letter reads -- "With nowhere for livestock and poultry to go, animal care would become more challenging. The robust U.S. export trade in meat, poultry, and egg products would all but dry up, and imports would be halted at the border."

Congress has until March 1 to pass a deal to avert the automatic spending cuts.

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