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D.C. News

published: August 10th 2018
WASHINGTON – The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and other leading organizations in the animal agriculture industry (referred to often as “the Barnyard”) sent a letter (see letter below) on July 26th  to President Do-nald J. Trump urging him to ensure the U.S Depart-ment of Agriculture (USDA) acts as the primary regulatory authority over lab-grown fake meat products. The Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) designates USDA as the main oversight body for emerging lab-grown products. However, in recent weeks the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has moved aggressively to assert regulatory jurisdiction over lab-grown fake meat. 
"The American people elected President Trump because they trusted him to promote a level playing field for American products around the world,” said Kevin Kester, president of NCBA. “Now, the President has the chance to demonstrate his support for free and fair markets right here at home. By supporting USDA oversight of lab-grown fake meat, the President will protect American consumers and ensure that America’s farmers and ranchers are not disadvantaged in the marketplace.”
In the letter, the Barnyard groups highlight the critical role USDA plays in enforcing the same rigorous food safety and labeling standards for all meat and poultry products.
“Undoubtedly, USDA’s exacting standards impose regulatory burdens on meat and poultry producers – as they should,” the groups wrote. “However, if cell-cultured protein companies want the privilege of marketing their products as meat and poultry products to the American public, in order to ensure a fair and competitive marketplace, they should be happy to follow the same rules as everyone else. Consumers expect and deserve nothing less.”
The groups also questioned the FDA’s “regulatory power grab” and noted that the agency’s actions are inconsistent with a recently-released White House government reorganization plan.
 
July 26th
President Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW 
Washington, DC 20500 
Dear President Trump: 
The undersigned organizations respectfully re-quest you take action to preserve a fair and competitive marketplace for all meat and poultry products, regardless of the method in which these products are produced. Our members raise and process cattle, sheep, hogs, turkeys, and chickens to feed families in the United States and around the world. Protect-ing the health and welfare of consumers is our top priority and this goal is achieved under a comprehensive regulatory system administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). That system ensures all meat and poultry products are held to the same rigorous food safety and labeling standards. Anything less is a grave disservice to consumers and producers. 
At a recent public meeting held by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which excluded USDA and at which FDA indicated it plans to assert itself as the primary regulator of cell-cultured products, a representative of a cell-cultured protein company stated, “Our beef is beef, our chicken is chicken.” If that is so, then cell- cultured protein products that purport to be meat or poultry should be subject to the same comprehensive inspection system that governs other amenable meat and poultry products to ensure they are wholesome and safe for consumption, and to ensure they are labeled and marketed in a manner that provides a level playing field in the marketplace. 
USDA is uniquely equipped to ensure both elements: inspectors are on-site daily, and USDA approves all product labels to ensure products are what they claim to be and to prevent consumers from being misled. Meat and poultry processing companies have been meeting the challenge of USDA inspection for decades. Cell- cultured meat and poultry companies can and should meet the same requirements. 
Ironically, this regulatory power grab by FDA comes on the heels of the White House’s recently released government reorganization plan that included moving primary federal food safety functions into a single agency housed within the USDA. Having cell-cultured protein products regulated by FDA is not only inconsistent with the meat and poultry inspection statutes, but also with the White House’s reorganization plan. 
Undoubtedly, USDA’s exacting standards impose regulatory burdens on meat and poultry producers – as they should. However, if cell-cultured protein companies want the privilege of marketing their products as meat and poultry products to the American public, in order to ensure a fair and competitive marketplace, they should be happy to follow the same rules as everyone else. Consumers expect and deserve nothing less. 
Sincerely, 
American Farm Bureau Federation 
American Sheep Industry Association 
National Cattlemen's Beef Association 
National Chicken Council 
National Pork Producers Council 
National Turkey Federation North American Meat Institute 

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