Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack defended USDA’s proposed overhaul of the poultry inspection system in a hearing this week before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies. “We can not only save money, but more important, save lives,” Secretary Vilsack said.

Vislack said that critics do not fully understand the new inspection system, and he pointed out that, under the new system, microbiological safety will be the focus, not cosmetic issues.  In terms of the timeline, Vilsack said the department is hoping to finalize the proposal in 2014, so the savings can be factored into the fiscal year 2015 budget.