Washington, D.C. – During a House Agriculture Committee hearing today, Rep. Kristi Noem questioned U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack about the Administration’s efforts to reduce the impact of sequestration on our nation’s agriculture producers.

Referring to a leaked internal email from Charles Brown, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) eastern regional director, Rep. Noem questioned Sec. Vilsack on whether it is a policy of USDA to not use any flexibility the department may have in managing the sequester.

In the email, Brown mentions he had inquired with his superiors at USDA as to the degree of flexibility they will have in administering sequestration cuts. The response from USDA was striking: “We have gone on record with a notification to Congress and whoever else that ‘APHIS would eliminate assistance to producers in 24 States in managing wildlife damage to the aquaculture industry, unless they provide funding to cover the costs.’ So, it is our opinion that however you manage that reduction, you need to make sure you are not contradicting what we said the impact would be.” (emphasis added)

Below is the video from the exchange.

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