NMA PETITIONS FOR NEGOTIATED RULEMAKING
OAKLAND, CA -- National Meat Association, together with American Association of Meat Processors, Eastern Meat Packers Association, National Association of Meat Purveyors, Southeast Meat Association and Southwest Meat Association filed a petition with Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman asking that the FSIS's current notice and comment rulemaking for the proposed Pathogen Reduction/HACCP regulations (Mega Reg) be converted to negotiated rulemaking.
NMA first requested negotiated rulemaking in mid-October, 1994. In response, Acting Under Secretary for Food Safety Michael Taylor promised that the process for developing major changes would be the "functional equivalent of negotiated rulemaking." However, the rulemaking that has taken place since the Mega Reg was proposed on February 3, 1995 has been "authoritarian, adversarial and polarized, but not interactive," reads the petition.
To support the request, the petitioners remind the Secretary of President Clinton's commitment to negotiated rulemaking. "It is time to move from a process where lawyers and bureaucrats write volumes of regulations to one where people work in partnership to issue sensible regulations that impose the least burden without sacrificing rational and necessary protections," wrote Clinton in a March 4, 1995 memorandum to the heads of Executive Departments.
The petition describes the benefits of negotiated rulemaking based on the Negotiated Rulemaking Act of 1990. This Act provides that in negotiated rulemaking, representatives of all affected parties work together to take into account the needs of the various groups. The meeting will either result in a consensus or at least enlighten the agency about the views and problems of the parties involved. The petition then draws several parallels describing why the Mega Reg is a qualified candidate for negotiated rulemaking. "Negotiated rulemaking will result in earlier, smoother implementation of a new rule because its interactive process will better permit all concerned parties to participate as solutions are crafted to various problems that are identified," argues the petitioners.
In conclusion the petition details six ways in which the proposed rule is flawed and will not lead to strong science-based inspection: it represents layering of government activities; it uses new microbiological technology for the wrong purpose -- end product testing; it creates the misleading impression that government and industry can assure one hundred percent delivery of pathogen-free meat; it uses overstated and misleading data as justification; it fails to address vectors for pathogen transmission other than meat and poultry and locations other than packing and processing plants; and it fails to address issues involving the future operation of the inspection program.
NMA is a non-profit trade association for meat packers and processors, as well as equipment manufacturers and suppliers who provide services to the meat industry. The association with over 600 members throughout the United States, include membership in Canada and Mexico. Together with the accompanying trade associations: American Association of Meat Processors, Eastern Meat Packers Association, National Association of Meat Purveyors, Southeast Meat Association, and Southwest Meat Association the petition is made on behalf of approximately 3000 firms under USDA meat and poultry inspection.