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AMI Guest Editorial: Packer Ownership of Livestock Helps Meet Consumer Demands

Monday, February 11, 2008

(American Meat Institute)

”Free market principles have worked their magic in the U.S. meat industry and helped create one of the most abundant and varied meat supplies anywhere,”  says AMI President and CEO J. Patrick Boyle in a guest editorial in The Bismarck Tribune.  “Unfortunately, Congress is poised to toss a wrench right into the fan belt of the free enterprise system. A provision contained in the Senate version of the 2007 Farm Bill would outlaw the ability of a meat processing company to both own livestock and then process them for consumption. This move would destroy an effective business model that has allowed the U.S. meat industry to respond quickly to market signals about what consumers want in their meat products,” he adds.

Boyle notes that as our economy and family time demands have changed, so have the demands of consumers.  “Today's consumers are more pressed for time than ever and generally have less food preparation experience than previous generations. A recent study noted that 85 percent of adults delay making a decision on what they are having for dinner until 4:30 that day. But when that decision is made, the product has to be quick to prepare, nutritious and consistent from purchase to purchase,” he adds.

Boyle points to a 2007 report released by the USDA's Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration that noted product quality and consistency were benefits of these kinds of relationships between packers and producers.

Boyle argues that Congress should allow free enterprise to continue to work. “The meat industry is one of American agriculture's true success stories. The integration of the market, the passing of signals up the food chain from consumer to packers and processors and to producers has been a driving force behind this success,” he notes.

”Americans want meat products that are safe, high-quality, high-value and consistent. The meat industry has developed a business model that is consumer-driven and responsive to these needs. If Congress insists on undoing this progress by banning a company's ability to both own and process animals for meat, it will not only be unfair to the meat industry, but to consumers, who have made their meat choices clear,” Boyle concluded.

To view the guest editorial in its entirety, click here: http://www.meatinstitute.org/Storylinks/2008/BismarckTribuneAMIOpEd.pdf

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