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Federal Plant and Animal Inspectors Spend $4.77M on Military Hardware

The Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service spent $4.77 million between 2006-2014 on guns, ammunition and other pieces of military-style hardware according to June oversight report “The Militarization of America, a review of purchases by non-military federal agencies, issued by Open the Books, a project by the government watchdog American Transparency.

“We quantified $1.4 billion in non-military federal agencies purchases of guns, ammunition and military-style equipment during the last nine years,” said Adam Andrzejewski, founder and CEO of OpenTheBooks.com.

“We estimate that federal non-military agencies now employ more officers with arrest and firearm authorization than there are U.S. Marines,” he said. “There are 182,000 U.S. Marines and over 200,000 plus officers employed within the rank-and-file federal agencies.”

Andrzejewski said, “In 1996, there were 74,500 such federal officers in the Bureau of Justice Statistics official count. By 2008, the official count rose to 120,000. The bureau hasn’t updated since 2008 and now we quantify over 200,000.”

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is tasked with looking out for plant and animal diseases with special missions, regulating genetically engineered organisms, and administering the 1966 Animal Welfare Act, which regulates warm-blooded animals used in research or commercially.

Andrzejewski said the service also purchased drones, remote-controlled helicopters, ballistic armor vests, riot shotguns, long-range marksman rifles, .308 semi-automatic rifles, night vision goggles, thermal binoculars, and Ruger Mark III‘s, which is an exotic semi-automatic rimfire pistol.

The service also purchased: explosives, surveillance equipment, and large net casters, which are mounted on a long-gun stock.

At least 1,500 employees at the service regularly carry firearms–and in fact, all employees of the USDA are authorized to carry firearms, he said.

Among the regularly-armed service employees are 65 mounted patrol officers, called “tick riders,” who scout the Mexican border for feral animals.

“I’d also expose the Department of Homeland security purchase of 1.7 billion bullets with 452 million of them as hollow-point bullets,” he said.

“At DOJ, there’s hardly been growth in FBI agents though with 12,760 in 2008 and 13,856 in 2014,” he said.

“There’s been huge growth in ICE and Custom and Border Protection agents, but the border is not being protected,” he said. “The Pentagon transferred over 4500 ‘bayonets’ via the Program 1033 military surplus to DEA and border patrols.”

The Open the Books project catalogs state, local, and federal spending and is inspired by the work of former Republican Oklahoma senator Dr. Tom Colburn, who annually published a book of wasteful government spending. Colburn is the honorary chairman of Open the Books.

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