USMEF Exporter Committee Report

by Mark Gustafson, Chairman


The USMEF Exporter Committee addressed a number of key issues at its Nov. 6 meeting at the USMEF Strategic Planning Conference, including the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) notice on export re-inspection. Triggered by ineligible product being shipped to Japan, procedures have been in place since early 2006 that require any product targeted for export to be re-inspected before an export certificate is issued.

But shortly after our committee meeting adjourned, FSIS issued Notice 61-14, which states that product re-inspection is no longer required prior to issuing an export certificate at an official producing establishment – unless, inspection program personnel have a reason to question the soundness of the product or whether it has been properly labeled. If the export certificate is not issued at the official producing establishment, however, identification and re-inspection are still required before the export certificate can be issued (for example, at a cold storage facility or other location that is not the producing establishment).

This change is a very positive development that the industry has been seeking for some time as it will effectively return FSIS’s re-inspection requirements to reflect those in place prior to 2006.

The committee also discussed the FSIS Export Library Requirements and recommended that FSIS review each country’s requirements to determine if the conditions listed are still applicable and necessary, because some of the agreements have not been negotiated since they were originally put in place. The committee directed USMEF staff to work with USDA to update the FSIS Export Library Requirements.

A discussion was also held on the Public Health Information System (PHIS) implementation process. The PHIS is a data analytic system being launched by USDA, which exporters are keen to have implemented because it will allow companies to closely track documents throughout the export certification process, with the added benefit of allowing exporters to edit documents up to one day before exported products arrive at their destination. The Exporter Committee agreed to send a letter to USDA requesting that the industry receive early access to the PHIS software, prior to the scheduled implementation in spring 2015.

The committee also discussed Egypt’s plan to implement hormone residue testing on Jan. 1, 2015. We are hopeful that a six-month postponement will be granted, but will be monitoring this proceeding carefully. An update was also provided on Japan’s approval of the processing aid hypobromous acid (HBA). It is essential that HBA is approved in Japan before next spring, so U.S. plants can use it during the hot season.

The committee directed USMEF to submit joint comments with the North American Meat Association/American Meat Institute on proposed USDA grading changes. More details on this proceeding are available at the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s website.

The committee also received a progress report on the Meat Industry Stewardship Advisory Council (MIISAC) from Norman Bessac, the council’s vice-chairman. More details on the creation of MIISAC and its primary objectives are available online.

The USMEF Strategic Marketing Plan was accepted by the committee, as presented by Dan Halstrom, USMEF senior vice president for marketing and communications. Exporters with questions about any of the items addressed may email Paul Clayton or call 303-623-6328.

NOTE: In upcoming editions of USMEF’s Export Newsline, we will have chairman’s reports from the Nov. 6 meetings of the Beef and Allies Industries Committee, the Pork and Allied Industries Committee and the Feedgrain and Oilseed Caucus.