FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) – The USDA is moving forward with furloughing meat safety inspectors due to mandatory federal budget cuts, and one Fort Worth chili company is worried that could be a recipe for a loss of sales.
At a House Agriculture Committee hearing Tuesday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said each safety inspector will likely be furloughed for 11 or 12 days.
For customers, these furloughs could mean a temporary shortage in some meant products as well as higher prices.
For Texas Chili, a family-owned food company on the north side of Fort Worth, without a USDA inspector on site it cannot produce its chili.
“If we were a bigger facility and could get months and months ahead, that’s one thing,” said Garrett Flynt, vice president of Texas Chili. “But we’re obviously a smaller facility and can’t do that.”
When the furloughs happen, Flynt said he is considering shutting down operations for several days.
Flynt employs 12 full-time plant workers.
However, what he said he worries about the most is losing his shelf space at local grocery stores.
The Fort Worth company has worked since 1952 to be sold side-by-side in Texas stores with larger national meat producers.
“If we are unable to produce product for two weeks, three weeks, four weeks; there are a lot of big guys right behind me waiting to fill that space on the shelf,” Flynt said.
Secretary Vilsack said Tuesday due to the complexities associated with negotiating with labor unions representing the meat inspectors, the furloughs won’t take place for ‘several months.’
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