The North American Meat Processors Association has confirmed that FSIS headquarters yesterday told all district managers that all inspectors in the plant, all front line supervisors, and all EAIO’s are deemed “essential employees” and should work as usual if the federal government shuts down at midnight Friday.

Most other management personnel are not deemed essential and would not report to work.

As of 4 pm EDT on Thursday, the U.S. Customs Service had not said if its inspection personnel are deemed “essential”, and if they would be at work during a federal government shut down. Meat imports by the U.S. will halt if they are deemed ‘non-essential’ and absent, NAMP reported.

U.S. Customs did not return calls from several meat industry associations on Thursday. The USDA has deemed FSIS border inspectors “essential”, according to at least one media report. If Customs inspection personnel are not considered “essential”, FSIS would be able only to inspect meat passed by Customs before a shutdown. However, there has been no indication so far that Customs inspection personnel will not be deemed “essential” either.

Source: NAMP