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User Fees Included In USDA’s FY09 Budget

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

(American Meat Institute)

The White House and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released their budget proposal for FY 2009 yesterday that includes $96 million in “user fees” for the inspections for meat, poultry and egg inspection.

Under the proposals, $92 million would be generated through a licensing fee that all meat plants would pay based on production levels. An additional $4 million would be collected from plants that require additional testing, have recalls or inspections linked to food-borne illnesses.

 “This proposal holds the potential to undermine the public’s confidence in the government’s commitment to food safety,” said American Meat Institute President and CEO J. Patrick Boyle.  Boyle noted that the proposed food safety tax will foist added costs on meat and poultry producers and their products while they are already seeing pressure from rising feed prices fueled by the ethanol mandate.  “And unfortunately, a tax on necessary food items hurts the working poor and disadvantaged the most,” he added.
 
Boyle called the proposed user fee “double dipping,” pointing out that federal meat and poultry inspection is a key public health and safety program required by federal law and funded through tax dollars already being collected from consumers.  Boyle added that depending on user fees to fund such a key component of the food safety system “may raise clear questions, domestically and abroad, about the independence and efficacy of food inspections in the U.S.”

AMI will provide further updates on these proposals as the information becomes available.

To review the entire USDA budget proposal for FY2008, click here:  http://www.usda.gov/documents/Budget2009.pdf

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