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AMI Opposes Proposed User Fees for Meat and Poultry Inspection in FY 1999 Budget

Monday, February 2, 1998

The American Meat Institute (AMI) today said it opposed $573 million in meat and poultry inspection “user fees” requested in USDA’s proposed Fiscal Year 1999 budget.

“The $573 million budget request for user fees is the largest ever,” said AMI President J. Patrick Boyle, “And I can say with certainty it will be the most vigorously opposed.”

Boyle noted that user fees for meat and poultry inspection are strongly opposed by industry, producer, consumer and labor groups alike. To date, every attempt to obtain Congressional approval for such an initiative has failed. Last year, USDA failed to secure authority to collect $390 million in user fees.

According to Boyle, meat and poultry inspection is a public health and safety program required by federal law. The public, not the meat company, is the designated beneficiary of federal inspection programs.

He said that if industry were to pay user fees, there would be no incentive for the federal government to control inspection costs because the companies would have to pay any additional cost incurred by the program. He also said that such a levy would put meat and poultry at a competitive disadvantage compared to other food products.

Calling user fees a “food tax,” he said that the costs of user fees ultimately may be passed onto the consumer, who already fund meat and poultry inspection programs through their annual federal taxes. “In effect, consumers are being asked to pay twice in 1999 for the same level of food safety protection they are receiving in 1998,” Boyle said.

AMI represents the interests of packers and processors of beef, pork, lamb, veal and turkey products and their suppliers throughout North America. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute provides legislative, regulatory and public relations services, conducts scientific and economic research, offers marketing and technical assistance and sponsors education programs.

For more information contact:
Janet Riley
Vice President, Public Affairs
James Ratchford
Manager, Public Affairs

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