San Juan Islands & Budget Issues

San Juan Islands & Budget Issues

San Juan Islands & Budget Issues plus Food Forethought. I’m Greg Martin with today’s Northwest Report.

It appears some of the budget woes are being ironed on Capital Hill. The U.S. Senate approved a fiscal year 2014 budget resolution over the weekend on a 50 to 49 vote. The budget replaces sequestration in a balanced way to protect jobs and the economy and invests in broad-based economic growth and job creation. Last week the continuing resolution was passed and Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack discussed how that would affect meat inspectors and other areas of USDA.

VILSACK: The furloughs that we were anticipating and would be required to have done under the sequester without Congressional help and assistance in food safety will be avoided. So out inspectors will stay on the job which means our processing facilities will continue to operate uninterrupted throughout the summer. Of course that’s really great news for producers, great news for consumers, great news for all those that work in those processing plants and our own inspectors.

Yesterday, President Obama signed the Presidential National Monument declaration for nearly 1,000 acres of federally owned land on the San Juan Islands. The new designation preserves over 60 unique parcels of land and ensures public access for future generations and represents the first National Monument in Northwest Washington. Senator Maria Cantwell had urged the president to make this designation prior to the departure of Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. Permanent protection of the approximately 1,000 acres of federally owned land ensures the land remains in its current state and publicly accessible, despite higher use.

Now with today’s Food Forethought, here’s Lacy Gray.

It’s been two months since the horse meat scandal broke across Europe. The uproar wasn’t so much about the eating of horse meat, Europeans knowingly eat horse meat on a regular basis, but about the undisclosed substitution of horse meat in the food chain. In 2011 Congress lifted the ban established in 2006 that prevented horse slaughter here in the U.S.. At present no plants are authorized to slaughter horses, but several companies have reportedly asked that the USDA Food and Safety and Inspection Service re-establish inspections. Last October Valley Meat filed a lawsuit against the USDA and the FSIS alleging that the USDA was violating the Federal Meat Inspection Act by failing to offer inspection for horse meat. The issue of horse slaughter is of course a very emotional one. Most Americans consider horse meat off limits, but that hasn’t always been the case. Near the end of WWII beef was in short supply so many turned to horse meat. There are now attempts to reinstate the federal horse slaughter ban. If Congress doesn’t act to reinstate a ban on horse slaughtering, the U.S. will be legally obligated to inspect horse slaughtering plants, and horse meat may once again be on the menu.

Thanks Lacy. That’s today’s Northwest Report. I’m Greg Martin on the Ag Information Network.

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