Given the budget shortfall, Keeney and Skelton said the agency is always looking at ways to save money.
Keeney said federally mandated increases in salary levels, plus fixed overhead costs, restrict the ability to find big savings.
“We want to make sure we have enough inspectors to do the job,” he said.
While the USDA does not have an ongoing survey to gauge customer satisfaction with the service, he said the agency was keen to respond to the needs of the industry.
Keeney said the agency has formed a business development unit to meet with receivers, foodservice operations and growers shippers to determine what types of services the industry requires from the USDA.
So far, Keeney said the need for food safety inspection services seem to be the top point of discussion among industry leaders.
“That is the biggest concern by far at the moment, ” he said.