The National Chicken Council co-signed a letter Friday sent to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney requesting that Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) meat and poultry inspectors continue working in the event of a government shutdown.

“As the threat of a government shutdown becomes more real, so does the threat to the industry’s ability to provide critical components of the food supply,” the letter read. “A government shutdown that fails to classify FSIS inspectors as essential will disrupt not only the operations at meat and poultry processing plants and idle the approximately 500,000 people who work there, it will cause significant disruptions throughout the supply chain, from livestock producers who will be unable to market their animals to grocery stories that will not be able to stock the meat case.”

In past government shutdowns, FSIS inspectors were deemed “essential” personnel and were allowed to continue working. When the government was funded again, Congress approved back-pay to those inspectors, who were technically furloughed.

USDA has begun preparations to cover inspection obligations and anticipates inspectors continuing to work in the event of a shutdown. If inspectors were prohibited from working, poultry processing plants would also be prohibited by law from operating.

The letter was co-signed by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council, National Turkey Federation and North American Meat Institute.