WASHINGTON – A coalition of more than 20 food and agriculture organizations, including the American Meat Institute, sent a letter to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, or “Super Committee”, to oppose user fees for federal inspection of meat, poultry and egg products as the committee works to craft a deficit reduction plan.

“The industry stands ready to work with both the administration and the committee to find ways to reduce overhead costs at the Food Safety Inspection Service, especially in this time of extreme economic hardship, but those reductions should not jeopardize either the agency’s public health mission or its Congressional mandate for continuous inspection in the meat and poultry industries,” the groups wrote in the letter. “Food safety inspection benefits everyone and therefore should be paid for through appropriated funds.”

With the price of commodities rising and job growth hovering at zero, inspection fees will impact the price of meat, the letter charged. 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.

“We applaud your efforts to formulate a budget plan that will finance the Federal government in a fiscally sound manner, and urge Congress to continue to oppose proposals to assess new user fees, either in whole or in part, to fund federally mandated meat, poultry or egg product inspection,” the letter concluded.

The letter can be read at theAMI web site.