Washington, D.C. — Included in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s proposed Fiscal Year 2011 budget are two new meat and poultry inspection user fees, the American Meat Institute announced. These fees would charge companies for services ordinarily funded by the federal government.

The proposed budget states in part, “[i]n addition, legislation will be submitted for two user fees. The first is a performance-based user fee, which will be charged to plants that have sample failures or require additional inspection activities due to a pattern of regulatory non-compliance. The second one is a flat fee for facility applications and annual renewal activities in order to cover the increased costs above those basic inspection services provided to meat, poultry or processed egg products establishments. The amount of this fee would be based on a plant's size.”

A.M.I. relays section 695 of the Federal Meat Inspection Act (F.M.I.A.) notes that the “cost of inspection rendered on and after July 1, 1948, under the requirements of laws relating to Federal inspection of meat and meat food products shall be borne by the United States except the cost of overtime pursuant to section 394 of title 7.”

“User fees for meat and poultry inspection have been consistently and properly rejected by the U.S. Congress,” said J. Patrick Boyle, American Meat Institute president and chief executive officer.

Mr. Boyle, who likened these proposed fees to a food tax, said many meat and poultry companies will be forced to pass on the increased costs to consumers, who are struggling to make ends meet in a very tough economy and challenging job market. “Consumers have already been taxed once for the operating budget of U.S.D.A. and the food-safety responsibilities of the federal government,” he concluded.