In a decision handed down by the U.S. Court of Appeals, the court has ruled that the Department of Agriculture’s new, experimental inspection model does not violate current statutes, but made clear that its current ruling “…may not necessary foreshadow the outcome of judicial review of such future regulations” if this experimental program is made permanent.
“USDA may have won this battle, but the court is warning the department that they may not win the war,” Bobby L. Harnage, National President of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), stated following the release of the court’s decision.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia released its ruling (AFGE vs. Ann M. Veneman, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, et al., No. 01-5035) March 29, 2002, finding that USDA’s experimental inspection program did not violate the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) or the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA), but left in doubt whether such a determination would be made should the Agriculture Department make the program permanent.
“For the sake of the American people who rely on our government to guarantee the food they purchase at their local grocery store is safe, AFGE will continue its court battle should the USDA move to convert its pilot program at a few select plants to apply to all processing plants on a permanent basis.” Harnage added.
The American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO, is the largest union for government employees, representing 600,000 federal workers in the United States and overseas, as well as employees of the District of Columbia. AFGE represents over 5,300 federal meat and poultry inspectors. To learn more about AFGE, log onto www.afge.org.