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AMI Opposes Interstate Shipment Of State Inspected Meat and Poultry

Thursday, April 6, 2000

Washington, DC - A single, uniform, seamless system of inspection oversight is needed before interstate shipment of state inspected meat and poultry products can be contemplated, according to American Meat Institute President J. Patrick Boyle in testimony before the Senate Agriculture Committee.

For this reason, AMI will oppose the “New Markets for State-Inspected Meat Act of 1999" (S. 1988) unless key problems in the bill can be addressed.

Boyle noted that 27 meat and poultry inspection programs currently exist in the U.S.: one federal program, covering about 6,000 plants in all 50 states, plus 26 different state programs which cover about 3,000 plants in 26 states. The current system does not offer the uniformity necessary for business of the future, according to Boyle.

Boyle pointed to the sweeping changes of electronic commerce as an example of the inherent difficulties in the interstate shipment of state inspected product. Electronic commerce has greatly expanded domestic and international markets in the meat industry, yet this type of commerce depends on national uniformity, at least where food safety is concerned. As the Internet continues to transform the way business is conducted in the meat and poultry industry, according to Boyle, a single, uniform program is necessary to facilitate such change.

Boyle outlined additional concerns AMI member companies have with the legislation.

First, to create a truly uniform system, AMI’s members believe that the proposed legislation must incorporate the many notices, directives and other federal requirements that constitute the “nuts and bolts” of the system under which federal plants operate. To be truly uniform, state plants must meet the same requirements and the bill should explicitly state this.

Second, Boyle said, states should not be permitted to set regulatory requirements that are different from or in addition to the federal requirements.

Boyle added that national uniformity should also be exercised with respect to thresholds for entry into the state inspection system, rather than letting each state set its own threshold. A national threshold should be established.

“Our bottom line is that the current system with 27 different programs does not offer the uniform oversight necessary for the way business will be conducted in the coming years,” said Boyle. “We need a single, uniform meat and poultry inspection system, and AMI will support nothing less.”

The complete text of Boyle’s testimony is available at http://www.meatinstitute.org
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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