Sequester is “Hogwash” for Columbus Junction business

Despite sequester, it’s business as usual on Friday at the Tyson Foods plant in Columbus Junction, Iowa.

“That’s a tremendous part of our community,” said John Bloomer, Columbus Junction.

It’s where 1,200 employees process pork in the modern facility.

“Our little town would probably be a ghost town without it,” he added.

Just across the street, they’re cleaning trucks at the appropriately-named Hogwash.

Opening two years ago, the small business gets 75% of its work from Tyson and its customers.

“Right now, it’s very important,” said Hogwash manager Jake Lehman. “If we didn’t have Tyson, our business here at Hogwash wouldn’t work.”

Tyson depends on USDA inspectors, but automatic cuts could force the federal agency to furlough up to a third of its workers. Customers like Pete Schultz don’t like it.

“Just makes it tough on everybody,” he said. “We’re just all trying to do our job.”

In Columbus Junction, there’s a feeling that most of this is political posturing — that most of these cuts won’t happen. But the warnings still create an aura of uncertainty for businesses in this small town.

“If Tyson has to shut down for a little bit or slow down, it’s going to affect us,” said Lehman. “It’s going to affect the workers, and it’s going to affect the town.”

A Tyson spokesman says the entire meat packing industry is monitoring the situation. Any inspector furloughs would require a 30-day notice. So far, no such notices have been filed in Columbus Junction.

Seven jobs at Hogwash are in jeopardy. The small business will stop growing without Tyson. That sparks anger about Washington inaction.

“Listen to their constituents,” Bloomer concluded. “Maybe find out what it’s really like. I don’t think they live in a real world.”

For these guys, a sequester that’s just “Hogwash.”

Hogwash is located at 16362 Highway 70 in Columbus Junction. (319) 728-2388.

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