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Sen. Tom Coburn says the USDA should focus on more urgent services

The Oklahoma senator told the agriculture secretary the USDA shouldn't be attending conferences in California and Oregon while it's warning about furloughing food inspectors to deal with spending cuts
by Chris Casteel Published: March 6, 2013

“While conferences and workshops have decreased significantly in recent years, farmers and other constituents benefit from these forums because they are part of USDA's role to support agriculture and the American people.”

The USDA spokesperson said the agency is not a sponsor of the Oregon conference and has asked organizers to remove the USDA logo from the website.

In the past few weeks, Coburn has sent letters to the White House budget office and other federal departments asking them to set priorities and cut waste rather than essential services to absorb the spending cuts, known as the sequester, that were triggered on Friday.

The USDA, as some other departments, is restricted under the sequester from shifting money among agencies. Congress is expected to give more flexibility in legislation that may taken up by the House on Wednesday to keep the government running through September.

by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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