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NEW LEGISLATION ASSURES MANDATORY USDA INSPECTION FOR
DALLAS, TX --- On Oct. 28, President William Jefferson Clinton signed
H.R. 4461 into law, the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug
Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for FY 2001.
The Act, which fully funds the president's Food Safety Initiative at $383 million (a $57 million increase
over FY 2000) provides, among other mandates, a mandatory USDA inspection of ratite meat at processing.
include Emu, Ostrich and Rhea. Until the bill was passed, ratite producers
had to pay for USDA inspections each time birds were processed.
The American Emu Association has been aggressively lobbying for this outcome for the past two years and Neil
Williams, AEA president, said signing H.R. 4461 into law would make it possible for emu producers around the
country to become more profitable. "The membership of the American
Emu Association have put great effort into bringing our needs to the attention of
the Congress, and needless to say, we are ecstatic with the President's signing
this bill into law.
"We've seen several producers go out of business over the past 12 months because they could no longer afford to
shoulder the costs of processing," Williams said. "This bill will assist each
of our members in holding
their ground in the marketplace as the industry continues to grow.
Presently, we are seeing a growth in demand for emu products and we assume that
this exciting trend will continue."
Increasing demand for emu meat products has come on the heels of a USDA report from The University of
Wisconsin-Madison which determined that
emu meat was lower in fat and higher in protein than all other alternative red
meats as well as turkey and chicken. "As consumers, especially those
who are concerned about lowering the fat content in their diets, became aware of
the University of Wisconsin research, emu producers began receiving more orders
for their meat products," Williams explained. "And we are particularly
pleased to see the demand coming from all parts of the country and from all
sectors of the economy - from individual homemakers, from nursing homes and
hospitals and from five-star restaurants and celebrity chefs who are now
incorporating emu meat into their menus on a regular basis."
In effect, HR 4461 will allow emu producers across the country to provide processed meat products at a lower
cost, which, in turn, will make emu products
more competitive with traditional meat products.
The bill, which received support from a majority of the Congress, not only improves the safety of the food supply
by funding increased inspection
activities for domestic and imported foods but also provides critical funding
for the nation's farmers and ranchers and offers assistance to low-income
families and rural communities.
Additionally, with the signing of H.R. 4461 into law, loans and grants for priority rural development programs will
increase to $9.9 billion this year, up $2.7 billion over fiscal year 2000. "These funds will help diversify
the rural economy, improve quality of life in rural communities and bring more
rural areas across the "economic divide" that separates too many parts
of the country from the economic expansion currently underway," Williams
said. "And the Act will also provide over $100 million in loans and grants
to finance local Internet service and broadband transmission into rural
Williams expressed his appreciation to Jeanne Summerour, the AEA's legislative
liaison, to Margaret Pounder, executive director of AEA, the association's board of directors and to
the scores of members who have worked
diligently to secure this important bill and its passage. "This bill will allow our industry to take another
giant step forward in the process of expanding our markets," Williams pointed out, "and its impact will
serve to encourage small producers to continue their efforts to provide emu meat
products to the expanding American marketplace."
Editors note: Mandatory USDA inspection has already been
provided for the beef, pork and poultry industries for many years.