Note: This post is cross posted on the Alliance to Feed the Future Blog in celebration of Ag Day 2014
By: Janet Riley
As Meat Racket author Chris Leonard said recently, the American meat industry is truly a “technological marvel.” The meat on our plates is the safest, most varied, most abundant and most affordable in the world and is produced by an industry that operates under the most intensive regulatory and inspection regime in America.
Meat and poultry plants and the products they produce are inspected everyday. Plants that handle live animals must have inspectors, including veterinarians present continuously to enforce food safety, labeling and animal welfare regulations. While foodborne illnesses associated with meat and poultry were once common, today 99.99% of the meat and poultry in the U.S. is consumed safely.
Our meat isn’t just safe, it’s affordable. The average U.S. household spends just 6.7 percent of its money on food consumed at home, which is the lowest in the world. Americans are able to select from an amazing abundance of choices with thousands of different products to fit each person’s tastes. Whether someone is seeking conventional, minimally processed, natural, organic, free range, fresh or processed, it is available. There are so many choices, you could enjoy a different product everyday for your entire life with no repeat.
The meat on your dinner table has had significant benefits to our communities, the and U.S. economy as a whole. It is produced by an industry that employs nearly half a million people directly and indirectly adds another six million jobs to the U.S. economy. The industry generated $894 billion in economic activity and $98 billion in taxes that create schools, roads and other key services.
Demand for U.S. meat and poultry around the world remains strong. According to USDA, U.S. beef exports totaled 1,133,947 metric tons in 2012, while pork exports were 2,262,125 metric tons. A strong export market also means more jobs at home to produce the meat and poultry.
Meat and poultry is delivered to dinner tables by people who are entrepreneurs, innovators, animal lovers and scientists who care about the food they produce because it’s the same food they feed their families.