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American Meat Institute Opposes Request for User Fees For Meat and Poultry Food Safety Inspection

Wednesday, February 3, 1999

The American Meat Institute (AMI) today said that it opposes a request to collect from industry $504 million in “user fees” for meat and poultry inspection included in the administration’s Fiscal Year 2000 budget proposal.

“Meat and poultry food safety inspection is a public health and safety program mandated by federal law,” said AMI President J. Patrick Boyle. “Because the public, not industry, is the beneficiary of this program, funding should continue to be the responsibility of the federal government.”

The administration’s request would be used to pay for all in-plant food safety inspection costs, as well as all other costs associated with the Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. Every past attempt to obtain Congressional approval to collect these fees, including last year’s request for $573 million, has been defeated.

“Packers and processors are not alone in opposing these fees,” Boyle said. “Producers, consumer groups and labor organizations have stood with us to defeat user fees in the past, and we will work together to defeat this year’s request as well.”

Boyle said he is concerned about the government shifting the cost of its inspection and oversight responsibility in the food safety process to industry because this would eliminate government’s incentive to control costs. Such costs represent a “food tax” that ultimately will be passed on to consumers.

Boyle said that the meat and poultry industry is dedicated to producing safe and wholesome food products, noting that it has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in food safety processes and controls and is assuming significant costs to implement the Department of Agriculture’s new science-based inspection program, HACCP.

“The meat and poultry industry takes its food safety responsibilities very seriously,” Boyle said, “and we expect the federal government to do likewise. Funding for meat and poultry food safety inspection is the responsibility of the federal government”

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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