Hartzler presses Vilsack on processing grants, vaccine mandates in House hearing

The USDA’s Secretary is being urged by a member of Congress to help the small meat processors who took risks and expanded at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Missouri Congresswoman Vicki Hartzler told Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack she’s concerned the 500-million-dollar grant program for new meat processing plants announced in July won’t go back far enough. “I’m aware of some facilities that with the problem we were seeing, stood up during that time frame, and they went in debt to build these facilities and I’m concerned they won’t be able to qualify for some of these funds.” Vilsack says he will take Hartzler’s concerns into consideration, but also predicted the 500-million in funding would be exhausted.

Hartzler also told Vilsack she’s concerned about the Biden Administration’s vaccine mandate for federal workers. “There’s the thinking that many USDA offices will have to close because individuals just do not feel comfortable for whatever reason in taking a vaccine, and I was hoping that you would be open to allowing for some exemptions of these mandates.” Vilsack testified there are health and religious exemptions, and he does not expect a significant reduction in closed FSA offices.

Hartzler questioned Vilsack during a House Ag Committee Hearing Thursday.

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