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

WASHINGTON — Sen. Tom Coburn sent a letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsak on Tuesday asking him to cancel conferences in California and Oregon to save money for more vital needs because of spending cuts that took effect last week.

While the Agriculture Department is warning it will have to furlough food inspectors and the public could suffer more illnesses, some of its agencies are planning a California Small Farm Conference next week and a health conference in Oregon next month, Coburn said in his letter to Vilsak.

The conferences include food and wine tasting activities, Coburn noted.

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