Did You Know?

  • Did you know that every animal is inspected by a USDA employee before it is cleared for harvest?
  • Did you know that FSIS (Food Safety Inspection Service) inspects all carcasses during the harvest process to ensure that your beef is safe?
  • Did you know that federal law states that meat can not be shipped or sold without the USDA inspection seal that is given once the above two things have happened?
  • Did you know that this week the Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, threatened to furlough USDA and FSIS employees for at least two weeks beginning March 1st which would effectively shut down meat production in the United States?
  • I can tell you that knowing the answer to all of these questions has led me to several sleepless nights this week.  Yesterday afternoon, I decided to write the Secretary a letter which is listed below.  If you are compelled to contact the Secretary, you can send him an email at: Tom.Vilsack@usda.govDSC03744


Dear Secretary Vilsack,

 I write to you today with a heavy heart.  I am saddened, I am ashamed, and I am angry.  I feel all of these emotions because of your threatening words regarding a forthcoming furlough of FSIS employees.  As you know, that furlough would shut down the 6290 packing plants and processing facilities across the United States because it is illegal to slaughter and ship meat without the USDA inspection seal.

 Not only would this furlough directly affect the thousands of employees of those packing and processing facilities, but it would also affect every farmer in the nation and the millions of consumers that purchase the products that we work so hard to grow.

 My husband and I own and operate a diversified farm in Dawson   County, Nebraska.  We raise both crops and cattle using a combination of traditional and organic farming practices.  Our livelihood revolves around food animal production, and we have spent the last two decades tirelessly working to build a viable farming business.  This business becomes non-viable if animals cannot be slaughtered for meat production purposes.  Even the 2 week shutdown that you threaten will cause great hardship to us.

 Whether your threatening words are signs of a new reality or simply an attempt to play politically motivated games with Congress, they negatively affect our family farming business.  Scare tactics that involve the production of food are simply irresponsible and I am gravely disappointed in your behavior.  I believe that it is your job as the Secretary of Agriculture to calmly lead our nation’s food growers and aid them in their vital task of feeding their fellow countrymen. 

 Forgive me, sir, but it certainly appears to me that you are being severely derelict in your duties.  As I watch from Nebraska, the livelihood of my farming business is being jeopardized in the name of politics.  You, President Obama, and the rest of the administration are threatening the food and fiber of our country with your actions.  I would like to take a minute to remind you that you are tampering with both my livelihood and our country’s food security.

 In the coming weeks, I sincerely hope that you will designate FSIS inspectors as “essential personnel” and exempt them from the furlough.  Additionally, I pray that you will discontinue engaging in scare tactics that negatively affect farmers like me who work so diligently to raise safe and healthy food.

 I invite you to take some time to visit my blog site so that you can learn more about two of the many farmers that rely on you for leadership and support.  You can access my blog site at http://www.feedyardfoodie.com/.



 Anne Burkholder

Cozad, Nebraska


Filed under Farming, General

13 responses to “Did You Know?

  1. Well said Anne, the scare tactic politics you site will be the norm I’m afraid with this administration. All we have is our voice of outrage falling on Deaf Ears.

    • All that we can do is our American duty, and try and voice our views. I pray that we can have a rational discussion and find a way to move forward in a positive manner. I, like you, am very concerned about the next four years.

      Thanks for sharing,

  2. Rex

    Did you know that the packer pays fees for the inspection service?.
    A quick google search gave me the impression that the services are fully covered by the fee except perhaps for small packing houses with limited inspection volume.

    • Rex,

      That is great information and I am so glad that you shared it. It goes to strengthen the argument that this is purely a political move which is unacceptable.

      Unfortunately the markets are already negatively responding to the situation which means that we will be hurt no matter what the final decision is.


    • That’s not accurate. Fees are only paid for inspection services of non-amenable species and/or inspection services performed in overtime and holidays. I’m a FSIS inspected processor.

      • Hi Amy,

        I really appreciate the clarification. I also sincerely hope that inspections continue after March 1st so that you will continue to be operational.

        Thank you for adding to the discussion.

        All the best,

      • Rex

        Thanks for the clarification. I got the wrong impression from reading the Federal Register. If a sequester results in layoffs, would the inspectors then be on overtime and continue to work? Overtime and lab services were both listed as fee services.

      • Rex, short answer is no. Processors have official hours of operation. Yeah, of course, there is a form for that. 🙂 These hours are in 8hr blocks. Any work performed outside of the “official hours” is considered overtime &/or holiday.

  3. Clint Kaasa


    Great letter! Everything well sais. While I do not work for FSIS, I am a USDA employee. My coworkers and I are all worried about potential furloughs. I wish our President, his Administration, our Senators and Representatives were statesmen/stateswomen rather than politicians. This can be solved, please just work together.

    • Hi Clint,

      Thanks so much for adding to the discussion. I agree that we must work together to find a solution. Our country is in a mess right now and it will take good honest effort and hard work to move forward in a positive way. Anything that you can do to facilitate that would be much appreciated.

      I have been in contact with all of my Congressional representatives on this issue in addition to sending Sec. Vilsack the above letter. Quite honestly, I am so incredibly disappointed in our leadership that I do not know what else to do.

      Thanks for your help and insight. America works when we work together.


  4. Ann,
    Hubby and I read this and were just as upset as you. This affects everone from you to my hubby who handles the final poducts. Your letter was well stated and every politician needs to hear yours and others like you. Our leadership has been a mess for a long time now and most of the time they don’t think about the consequences of their actions on all of America… just about who will pay them to pass a bill, etc. Thank you for keeping us informed on the issues we need to be following in ths area.

    • I try to teach my girls that “a country is run by those that show up”. Although I have no desire to go into “politics”, I do think that it is my American duty to be informed and voice my opinion to my leaders. I sent this letter not only to the Secretary of Ag, but also to all three of my Congressional representatives. Comments like what Sec. Vilsack made last week are a BIG DEAL, and incredibly bothersome to me. They affected the markets that determine the price that I am paid for my cattle as soon as he uttered them. They will continue to negatively affect those markets…It is terribly frustrating to me.

      I hope that my letter will motivate some positive change–all we can do is try. Thank you for your kind words and support.


  5. Pingback: Americans Need To Engage… | Feed Yard Foodie

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