Scott George, NCBA president and a Cody, WY, beef producer, characterized Vilsack's announcement on an FSIS furlough as USDA using producers as pawns in its political wrangling with Congress. He’s right, of course. And the White House essentially backs up George’s contention in a fact sheet posted at whitehouse.gov, that is entitled “Examples of How the Sequester Would Impact Middle Class Families, Jobs and Economic Security.”

Describing how the furlough of federal inspectors “would impact middle-class families, jobsand economic security,” the fact sheet says, "These reductions could increase the number and severity of safety incidents, and the public could suffer more foodborne illness, such as the recent salmonella in peanut butter outbreak and the E. coli illnesses linked to organic spinach, as well as cost the food and agriculture sector millions of dollars in lost production volume."