About John Munsell
John was born in 1946 in Miles City, MT, where his father ran a meat packing plant. After graduating from Montana State University in Bozeman in 1968, John worked for both Continental Oil in Ponca City, OK and Target Stores in Minneapolis prior to returning home in 1971 to take over the family business which he eventually sold in 2005.
In January 2002, John's meat business (Montana Quality Foods & Processing) conducted a recall of 270# of ground beef potentially contaminated with E.coli O157:H7. The recall ensued from an adverse lab microbial report on a sample of ground beef collected by a USDA inspector at John's plant. Three additional and subsequent adverse lab reports quickly ensued, all of which was from ground beef emanating from meat John had purchased from an outside supplier. Even though the inspector and his veterinarian supervisor hand wrote and signed a document exposing that Est # 969 (ConAgra's plant in Greeley, CO) was the source of all the meat producing the subsequent three e.coli samples, USDA took enforcement actions against John's plant, not against the source originating slaughter plant, ConAgra.
USDA prevented John's plant from producing ground beef under inspection for the next four months, adversely impacting his business. At the conclusion of the four months, ConAgra in Greeley announced a 19.1 million lb recall, after which USDA quickly allowed John's plant to commence grinding under inspection again. Two weeks later, John went public to explain the agency's misbehavior, a story which was carried on NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw on August 1, 2002.
As a result of the NBC revelation, meat plant owners as well as USDA employees across the country unilaterally contacted John, all expressing similar horror stories of agency activities and policies which continue to imperil public health. The Government Accountability Project (GAP), a public interest law firm in Washington, DC initiated litigation against USDA on John's behalf in a vain attempt to require USDA to implement common sense changes in its meat inspection policies. Public disclosure of this lawsuit again resulted in dozens of total strangers, both from within the industry as well as USDA, contacting John to provide additional evidence of USDA abdicating its congressional mandate to protect and promote public health imperatives.
While selling his meat plant in 2005, John created the Foundation for Accountability in Regulatory Enforcement (FARE). The Foundation has two goals: protect the rights of legitimate small plant owners in their dealings with USDA, and funnel suggestions for common sense changes in meat inspection policies to USDA. John has become a regular contributor to various media and blogs, focusing on systemic problems within USDA's current style of meat non-inspection, called HACCP. His advocacy for small meat plants, promoting a viable rural America, and protecting public health and food safety has attracted attention, resulting in the following commendations:
Joe A. Callaway Award for Civic Courage, December 17, 2003
R-Calf USA Oak Legacy Award, for leadership in defense of liberty, private property and the United States cattle industry. 2010
Montana Meat Processors Association LaVoy Johnson dedication Award for Pursuit of Fair, Honest and Respectable Regulatory Practices. April, 2010
John and his wife Kathryn continue to live in Miles City, MT. They have two daughters, and six grandchildren, which John claims is God's reward for allowing his two daughters to live.