WASHINGTON – The American Meat Institute will file comments objecting to a proposed rule to charge a user fee for an electronic export application and certification system, the group announced Jan. 26.

The US Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is proposing a new rule that would establish an electronic export application and certification system that would be part of the agency's Public Health Information System (PHIS). The electronic system would be available as an alternative to the current paper-based process.

FSIS is proposing to charge a fee to use the electronic system, a fee that AMI believes is "legally questionable". Export certification is required under the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) and the Poultry Products Inspection Act which state that inspection costs will be borne by the federal government:

"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."

AMI said the organization would file comments on the proposed rule and object to the agency's attempt to impose the proposed fee.