South Dakota Congresswoman Kristi Noem questioned Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack at Tuesday’s House Ag Committee hearing on sequestration cuts about a leaked internal email from a USDA Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service (APHIS) regional director. The director, Charles Brown, said in that email that a clarification from his superiors of APHIS said that in managing cuts, in this instance, to aquaculture, he needs to – quote – “make sure you are not contradicting what we said the impact would be.”
Noem pressed Vilsack on the email, which he said he had not seen. Noem said, “My concern from the email is that it intends, I believe, in the way that it is worded is that it prioritizes staying consistent with the administration on what they previously said than what they may decide to do to protect producers. And, I’m hopeful that isn’t an agenda that’s been put forward.”
Vilsack said using flexibility where possible with the sequester cuts is the policy of the USDA. Some lawmakers have criticized the administration for “over-stating” the impact of sequestration cuts.