Senate boosts funding for meat and poultry inspection in move to prevent plant closures

WASHINGTON – The Senate has moved to provide more money to keep meat and poultry inspected on the job.

The amendment by Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas is aimed at preventing intermittent closures of meatpacking plants across the country that would be forced by automatic spending cuts that started to take effect this month.

The Agriculture Department warns that the furloughs could cost $10 billion in production losses and lost wages of $400 million.

The unanimous vote to provide $55 million more for food inspection came Wednesday as the Senate was about to pass a government-wide funding bill and avoid a government shutdown at month’s end.

The House is expected to approve the measure and send it to President Barack Obama for his signature.