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RMFU demands hearings from U.S. legislators

DENVER—Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU) President John Stencel has written letters to U.S. Reps. John Salazar, D-Colo., and Marilyn Musgrave, R-Colo., and U.S. Sens. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., and Craig Thomas, R-Wyo., demanding that the House and Senate Agriculture Committees immediately hold hearings to discuss with the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) the lack of enforcement by the agency on two urgent issues.

The first issue is the report that Canadian meat plants are not meeting United States inspection standards and yet are being allowed to continue exporting meat to the United States. Secondly, action needs to be taken in response to the most recent inspector general’s report stating that since 2000 the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration management has held up investigations of unfair or anticompetitive behavior; stopped complaints from being filed or prosecuted; and, created misleading numbers regarding the investigations being conducted by the agency.

“RMFU does not take these reports lightly,” said John Stencel, RMFU president. “At stake is the safety of our nation’s food supply. The American people have placed trust in our government when they purchase meat that carries the label ‘Inspected by the USDA’.” RMFU’s concern is the diminishing integrity of U.S. food inspection standards allowing imports, processed in foreign plants, to be exported into the United States through free trade agreements. The lesson to be learned from the example set by Japan is that when a country does not comply with international agreements, an immediate ban on imports is imposed until the issues are resolved.

“USDA, as a government agency, should serve and protect the American producer from unscrupulous actions by the meat packing industry,” said Stencel. “These two reports clearly indicate that America’s family farmers and ranchers are not being served well by our government. Laws that Congress took considerable time, energy and effort in adopting with the intent that USDA implement and enforce food inspection standards on imported beef are being ignored.”