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AMI Statement: USDA's Proposed User Fees for Meat and Poultry Inspection in Its FY 2005 Budget

Monday, February 2, 2004

(Attribute to J. Patrick Boyle, AMI President and CEO)

Once again, the concept of imposing "user fees" for meat and poultry inspection has surfaced, with a predictability equaled only by the regularity with which this ill-advised idea has been summarily rejected in past years.

The meat and poultry industry remains solidly opposed to the imposition of what is in fact a "food safety tax." Meat and poultry inspection programs are a public health function, as evidenced by federal laws mandating and funding these programs for nearly a century. By implying that these are "user fees" one would be ignoring the fact that consumers, who already fund inspection programs through federal taxes, would bear the cost, along with farmers and meat, poultry and egg processors, through higher costs and slowed production.

Ironically, this additional burden comes at a most inopportune time, when farmers, producers and processors are reeling from the economic impact associated with the loss of beef export markets, as a result of the temporary ban on U.S. beef exports due to the BSE case. This user fee "tax" also would put meat and poultry products at a competitive disadvantage in the marketplace, compared with other food products that would not be subject to such a tax.

Frankly, there is no other consumer, farm, labor or industry group -- nor any other public policy organization -- that supports the imposition of a food safety tax for meat, poultry and egg inspection. We are hopeful that history will repeat itself, and that this user fee proposal will be rejected.

For more information contact:
Dan Murphy
Vice President, Public Affairs
Ayoka Blandford
Manager, Public Affairs

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