Meat trade opposes inspection taxes

US - Government proposals to charge meat processing plants for licensing and inspections are bad for the industry and consumers, according to an influential trade association.
calendar icon 9 February 2007
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The Bush adminisistration's budget for 2008, released this week, includes proposals to charge new user fees to the food industry, totaling an estimated $105m, according to the American Meat Instutitute (AMI).

If the proposals become law, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will be responsible for charging fees as well as carrying out their federal duties.

The AMI, which represents firms processing 70 per cent of US meat and poultry, said the proposals would harm the industry and consumers that already pay for food safety services through taxation.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is proposing to introduce licensing facilities based on volume. The proposal, if implemented, that would cost the industry an estimated $92m per year in fees, according to the AMI.

Another proposal is to charge plants for additional inspections and activities following instances of performance failures, such as retesting, recalls, or inspection activities linked to an outbreak. These are expected to cost processors about $4m annually, according to AMI estimates.

The proposal is the first of its kind and replaces previous failed attempts to introduce broader user fees for general inspection services.

Proposed new user fees for animal welfare activities in 2008 to be collected by APHIS will cost industry a further estimated $9m, claims the AMI.


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