AMHERST, Mass. (WGGB) –Customers walking into Amherst’s Atkin’s Farms on Sunday had an idea of how much they were able to spend on meat. Come Friday, they may have to budget a little bit more.
A slew of sequester funding cuts would affect several government-funded programs and agencies, including the Federal Food Safety and Inspection Service.
Workers there are facing a 15-day furlough. With inspectors temporarily out of work, that would lead to less meat inspections, which is just the beginning. “It’ll definitely have an effect on the meat department because if there’s less meat available, food processing plants close down, there will be less meat available to our vendors to sell to us. So well be limited in variety, and also the price will go up for us,” said Kelly Lannon, Atkins Co-owner.
That’s not an expense they’re willing to pass on to the customers. “We don’t want customers to have to go elsewhere. They come here because they enjoy the quality of the meat and the product they’re getting. If it’s not a terrible, terrible loss we’re going to have to eat, why bother changing anything for the customer?” stated Meat Buyer John Snodgrass.
So they cut back in other areas, like their utilities so they wouldn’t have to. With St. Patrick’s Day coming up, the popularity of cured meats and corned beef will also help.
When prices of things like gas are already skyrocketing, paying more for meat is not something customers can afford. “It’s not easy, I’m retired now. If inflation really catches up, I think we’ll really have a problem,” Paul Quinlan shared. “It doesn’t mean I’ll be happy about paying more, but if it comes, I’ll just have to deal with it,” Nicholas Brown added.
If Congress doesn’t act by March 1st, and the cuts do happen, the White House says we would see 2100 fewer meat inspections at domestic and foreign facilities, and the public could suffer more food borne illnesses like E.Coli and Salmonella.