Congressmen call for more funding for Rancho recall inquiry

  • Operations at the Rancho Veal Slaughterhouse are stopped after Rancho Veal Slaughterhouse after 8.7 million pounds of beef products was recently recalled in Petaluma on Thursday, February 13, 2014. (Conner Jay/The Press Democrat)

Spurred by the international meat recall that shuttered a Petaluma slaughterhouse, two North Coast representatives want to allot an additional $1 million in funding to authorities who investigate food safety breaches.

An amendment offered by Reps. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, and Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, and passed by the House of Representatives Wednesday, would transfer the additional money from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to the department's inspector general.

They said the funding boost, now attached to a pending agricultural appropriations bill, was meant to speed the inquiry into what happened at Rancho Feeding Corp., which shut in February and has since reopened under a new name and new management, and to aid other investigations.

"Our amendment ensures the USDA Inspector General's Office has the resources needed to swiftly complete the investigation, close the case, and ensure we get answers so we can prevent this from happening again," Huffman said in a statement.

The slaughterhouse in February recalled 8.7 million pounds of beef, all of it produced in 2013, after the USDA opened an investigation. Allegations were made that diseased cows, including some with eye cancer, had been processed but no official findings have been released.

"With the Rancho recall, I witnessed firsthand the need for USDA's inspectors to have more resources so they can conduct better and more efficient investigations," Thompson said in a statement.

A House vote on the appropriations bill to which the amendment is attached is expected next week.

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