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OMB Watch: USDA Budget Inadequate

OMB Watch, a non-profit dedicated to shedding light on the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), said yesterday that the 2010 budget for U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) food safety agency will likely not meet public health needs.

Though the USDA’s 2010 budget fulfills President Obama’s request to boost the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) funding, it may not be enough.

“Unfortunately, it appears the agency will be unable to close the gap in its inspection force responsible for policing the nation’s supply of meat and poultry,” said Matthew Madia a policy analyst at OMB Watch, in a blog post.

According to OMB Watch, there is a regulatory gap between the USDA’s inspection capacity and need for inspection. Though beef demand is growing quickly, staffing levels at FSIS have “held steady or dropped “ despite a steady increase in the agency’s budget.

“According Obama’s budget request, the agency will not significantly increase its inspection and enforcement activity. The budget predicts no change in the number of food samples analyzed or the number of corrective actions dictated by the agency, noted Madia.

“FSIS’s budget stands in stark contrast to the FDA’s. Obama has called for big budget increases for the other major food safety regulator, and Congress appears prepared to oblige.

Madia also points to FSIS to the lack of a Senate-confirmed undersecretary for food safety, as well as concerns about testing for E. coli throughout the beef supply chain as key challenges for the agency.

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