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American Meat Institute Opposes User Fees, Cooperatives, GIPSA Investigations in FY 2001 Budget

Wednesday, February 9, 2000

The American Meat Institute (AMI) today said it opposes $534 million in meat and poultry inspection “user fees” requested for the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) in USDA’s proposed Fiscal Year 2001 budget. AMI also strongly opposes an additional $19 million in user fees for the Packers and Stockyards Administration, including a 27 percent budget increase to investigate the meatpacking industry. In addition, the Institute opposes proposed government funding through USDA of $130 million for livestock processing cooperatives.

“We object to charging our industry half a billion dollars per year for a federally-mandated government inspection program," said AMI President J. Patrick Boyle. "Charging an industry for its government oversight program will simply undermine its regulatory integrity and objectivity."

Boyle also criticized other elements of the proposed FY2001 USDA budget. "It is a waste of taxpayer dollars to fund new, government subsidized meatpacking plants and yet another round of investigations into our industry's competitiveness,” said AMI President J. Patrick Boyle. “More than a decade of USDA investigations have found our industry to be operating appropriately and competitively," he commented, "and the last thing we need is the Federal government building more food processing plants. We think the private sector should build manufacturing plants."

USDA’s proposed FY2001 budget does not provide new meat and poultry inspectors, but USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) announced plans to shift meat and poultry processing inspection from shift inspections to random daily inspections, which the Administration says will save 150 full-time staff years annually.

To date, every attempt to obtain Congressional approval for industry-funded federal inspections has failed.

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 2001 for the same level of food safety protection they are receiving in 2000,” 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
Sara Lilygren
Senior VP, Public Affairs

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