WASHINGTON – The US House of Representatives passed an appropriations bill that will fund front-line meat inspections and other federal programs through September. President Obama is expected to sign the bill.

The bill provides $55 million for federal meat inspections and other programs, but leaves in place $85 billion in spending cuts. Sens. Mark Pryor and Roy Blunt wrote the amendment to the appropriations bill, which the US Senate approved by voice vote.

“We appreciate Congress’ leadership and we are particularly grateful for the efforts of Senators Pryor and Blunt, who offered an amendment to fund USDA’s meat and poultry inspection program,” said J. Patrick Boyle, AMI president. “We are gratified that lawmakers recognized the essential nature of meat and poultry inspection by taking this step to prevent inspector furloughs.”

Barry Carpenter, NAMA CEO, said the amendment states that department leadership must use the money “maintain essential employees,” and defines an essential employee as “an employee that performs work involving the safety of human life or the protection of property, as determined by the head of the agency.”

“Had inspection been halted, this would have resulted in a backlog of animals, shortened supply of beef to market, higher prices and harm to the futures markets,” said Scott George, NCBA president and cattleman from Cody, Wyo. “By the Secretary’s own estimates, this would have equated to $10 billion in production losses and $400 million in lost wages, only compounding the issues faced by ranchers dealing with the worst drought in 50 years.”