Editorial

USDA Meat And Poultry Inspection Readiness Grant Program

09/04/2022

The USDA has added $22 million to the Meat and Poultry Inspection Readiness Grant program that now has attained $54.6 million.  The latest infusion will fund 111 projects in 37 states.

 

Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, stated, “The meat and poultry inspection readiness grants will help meat and poultry processors make necessary facility improvements, expand their businesses and strengthen the Nation’s food supply chain.”  He added, “These grants are one part of USDA meat and poultry supply chain initiatives and will contribute to a transformation of the food system”.

 

Recipients of grants can receive assistance through the Meat and Poultry Processing Capacity Technical program launched in March 2022. Improvements and expansion funded through the MPIRG will allow processors to qualify for federal inspection or a State Cooperative Interstate Shipment program.  This allows small processors to sell product across state lines to develop new markets.

 

The USDA release provided examples of grant recipients in states including Oklahoma, Maine, and South Dakota who have purchased equipment to modernize plants and conform to FSIS protocols.

 

Investment in excess of $55 million in small plants must be carefully monitored to ensure that expenditure is consistent with program objectives.  An even more difficult task facing USDA will be to evaluate the return on expenditure of public funds to producers, communities and the supply chain.

 

The USDA, under the current Administration, believes that disruption of the supply chain, as a result of COVID in 2020, was a consequence of concentration of red meat processing in a few large plants.  Sprinkling money among many small enterprises will not necessarily move the needle or provide the Nation with greater food security.  Supporting labor-intensive local facilities may make for good politics. Ultimately, economies of scale and logistics inherent in the model followed by the “Big Four” and most second-tier packers will be responsible for supplying the current and future needs of domestic and export markets.  The U.S. operates a free-market economy and attempts at manipulation by the USDA will ultimately be futile and wasteful.


 

R-Calf Pressing for Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling of Meat.

09/02/2022

In 2015, Congress repealed the Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (MCOOL) Rule for meat.  The World Trade Organization ruled that the law conflicted with international rules and placed Mexico and Canada at a disadvantage.  In the event, the application of COOL resulted in imposition of punitive duties on many U.S. products.

R-Calf is now agitating for a return of Mandatory COOL, despite the fact that the U.S. is an important member of the WTO and participates with the Organization to counter unfair trade practices by China and other nations.

 

In an attempt to resurrect MCOOL, beef-state Senators are supporting the proposed Labeling Act. The bill is supported by Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), an avowed vegetarian and opponent of intensive livestock and poultry production. In all probability he recognizes the ultimate danger of COOL legislation to the beef industry for which he has little sympathy.

The approach by R-Calf is decidedly parochial and reflects self-interest, ignoring the realities of international trade.  The militancy demonstrated by R-Calf and their lobbying strength has implications for the USMCA Agreement in addition to international trade.

 

CHICK-NEWS reports regularly on the value of poultry trade with Mexico and Canada.  Any attempt to subvert the USMCA will result in a punitive response that would be to the decided disadvantage of the U.S. broiler, turkey and egg industries.


 
 
Copyright © 2022 Simon M. Shane