The meat and poultry industry stands firmly opposed to “user fees” for meat and poultry inspection. User fee proposals have become somewhat of an annual ritual, as have their annual rejection. Let’s be clear: the term “user fees” actually is an effort to make the proposal sound justifiable, which it is not. The more appropriate term would be “food safety tax.”
Federal meat and poultry inspection is a public health and safety program required by federal law and funded through tax dollars. The public is the designated beneficiary of these programs. Were these proposed food safety taxes put into place, their costs ultimately would be passed onto the consumer, who already fund meat and poultry inspection programs through annual federal taxes. At a time when leading economists are urging tax cuts to stimulate the economy, this “food safety tax” on the nation’s consumers, farmers and the meat, poultry and egg processing industries seems especially inappropriate.
In addition, if industry were to pay these fees, there would be no incentive for the federal government to control inspection costs because companies would have to pay any additional cost incurred by the program. The user fee “tax” also would put meat and poultry at a competitive disadvantage compared to other food products that do not pay these taxes.
We know of no other consumer, farm, labor or industry organization, nor any other public policy group, which supports imposing a food tax for meat, poultry and egg inspection. In this case, we hope history will repeat itself and that the user fee proposal will be rejected.