"Congress holds the purse strings, but who holds Congress these days when it comes to farm policy: the meatpackers and Monsanto?"
"So it seemed last week as lawmakers sent the White House an updated budget for the Agriculture Department complete with industry-backed orders on how Secretary Tom Vilsack should run the place.
The Post-it notes from the packers were hard to miss.
Alarmed that automatic spending cuts this month will slow plant operations, the meat lobby won a last-minute Senate amendment that cuts from a new White House-backed school breakfast program in order to ensure there will be enough money to keep food safety inspectors on the job this summer and avoid disruptions.
At the same time the industry went in the opposite direction, denying funds in the Ag budget for implementing reforms sought in the 2008 farm bill to provide greater protection for less powerful ranchers and farmers who raise the animals for slaughter."