Meat, poultry and egg industries — represented by 20 separate organizations — all agree they don’t like the prospect of paying food safety inspection fees, which they then will try to pass on to their customers.
All these groups signed a Sept. 13 letter to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction saying mandated food safety inspection has been paid for by taxpayers for the last 100 years, and so it should remain.
The deficit reduction committee — sometimes called the Super Committee — is charged under the Budget Control Act with cutting $1.5 trillion from future federal government spending.
So-called “user fees,” in which the federal government would charge meat, poultry and egg producers to offset the cost of required inspections, would raise revenue without taxes or more borrowing.
Signers of the letter call the user fees included in USDA’s Fiscal Year 2012 proposed budget “a food safety tax on consumers and not just a fee on processors.”
“With the price of commodities rising while job growth hovers at zero, it’s critical to note that inspection fees will impact the price of meat,” the letter says. “In fact they will make what is now an equitable funding mechanism into something inherently regressive. Low and middle-income families will be hit the hardest by the tax, because such families spend a higher portion of their income on food than do wealthier Americans.”
Signers include: American Association of Meat Processors, American Frozen Food Institute, American Meat Institute, American Sheep Industry Association, Eastern Meat Packers Association, Illinois Association of Meat Packers, Indiana Meat Packers and Processors Association, Iowa Meat Processors Association, Mid-States Meat Association and Missouri Association of Meat Processors.
Also signing were: National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Chicken Council, National Farmers Union, National Frozen Pizza Institute, National Meat Association, National Pork Producers Council, National Turkey Federation, Nebraska Association of Meat Processors, North American Meat Processors Association, Ohio Association of Meat Processors, Oklahoma-Texas Meat Processors Association, and the Shelf-Stable Food Processors Association.
Others include: Southeastern Food Processors Association, Southeastern Meat Association, Southwest Meat Association, and the United Egg Association.
Most of the same groups were successful in getting the President’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform in December 2010 to drop fees on meat, poultry and egg production as a revenue-raising measure.
Current budgeting has about 59 cents of every dollar required for meat, poultry and egg inspections coming from taxpayers, and the other 41 cents is borrowed. That adds to the national debt, which is now more than $14 trillion.