On Feb. 13, 2012, the administration released its Fiscal Year 2013 U.S. Department of Agriculture budget proposal. As in previous years, the budget submission requests so-called "user fees" for government mandated food safety inspection programs for meat, poultry and egg products. These proposed fees represent a food safety tax on consumers and not just a fee on processors.
The American Sheep Industry Association joined nearly 40 other agriculture groups to urge Congress to oppose proposals to assess new user fees, either in whole or in part, to fund federally mandated meat, poultry or egg product inspection. In this fragile economy, a new food safety tax could put jobs at risk and raise prices for consumers.
Meat, poultry and egg product inspection is a public health and safety program required by federal law and has been funded through tax dollars for over a century. Food safety inspection benefits everyone and, therefore, should be paid for through appropriated funds, which previous Congresses have agreed with.
The proposed tax will make the current equitable funding mechanism inherently regressive, since low- and middle-income families spend a higher portion of their income on food than do wealthier Americans. Furthermore, this proposal to transform food safety inspection provides less accountability for the government to manage program costs, results and efficiencies.