Could meat prices be on the rise? - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Could meat prices be on the rise?

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It appears meat prices at your local store could soon be on the rise. 

The White House warning of a potential shortage if thousands of meat inspectors are ordered off the job.

This has to do with the impending budget cuts in Washington. If the sequester begins March 1st, the White House says USDA inspectors could be furloughed for up to 15 days, forcing plants to shutdown, limiting supply and raising prices.

"I don't see how they could possibly do a 15 day in a row because there's a lot of meat products that you have to do something with," said Dean Dewig, owner of Dewig Meats.

It's a typical Tuesday inside Dewig Meats in Haubstadt.

"This is our slowest time of the year right now. January and February are our slowest months. I guess everybody got done eating after Christmas and they're still trying to recover and lose a few pounds," Dewig said.

Dewig says for 16 hours, five days a week, two meat inspectors are on hand to give his products their seal of approval.

Without them, there would be no reason to keep his knives sharp.

"We have to have an inspector here to do our processing in back. If we don't have inspection we're not going to be working, so I don't need the employees here," Dewig said. 

Many in the industry are calling the potential cuts devastating.

In a memo, the White House said the move would put families at risk and cost billions in lost food production.

But, Dewig is stocking his coolers and staying positive.

"If they cut us back 15 days straight that we can't do that, which I highly, highly doubt will ever happen. But yeah, it would definitely affect things," Dewig said. 

The industry is fighting back saying inspectors should be considered essential government employees.

It also contends, the ag department is obligated to continue providing inspections under federal law.

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