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FDA Food Safety Budget Cuts Advance in the House

As one group put it Wednesday, the food safety advocacy community isn’t exactly “enamored” by the proposed budget cuts to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that advanced in the House this week.

Under the Republican plan, which cleared the House Appropriations Committee Tuesday, the Fiscal Year 12 budget for food safety at FDA would be $955 million, which is $87 million below FY 11 and $205 million below President Obama’s FY 12 budget request.

The Alliance for a Stronger FDA, made up of industry and consumer advocacy groups, noted that the bill includes language that “prohibits funds to the FDA for rule-making activities or guidance unless the Secretary of Agriculture bases decisions on ‘hard science’ and determines that the benefit of the rule or guidance justifies the action.”

“The fiscal situation confronting our nation is of immediate importance, and hard choices simply can no longer be put off onto our children in the name of political expediency,” said House Appropriations Chair Hal Rodgers (R-KY), in a statement this week. “By trimming less essential services, eliminating duplicative programs and limiting funding for agencies that have been less than transparent with taxpayer money, we have put funding in this bill on a sustainable budget path.”

“For our part, the Agriculture Subcommittee has sought to begin making some of the tough choices necessary to right the ship,” said Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA), chair of the subcommittee that oversees the budget for FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “We have taken spending to below pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels while ensuring USDA, FDA, CFTC and other agencies are provided the necessary resources to fulfill their duties.”

Deputy Commissioner for Foods at FDA, Michael Taylor, recently told a public health audience in Washington, D.C., the agency will need funding increases to meet the mandate set forth in the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, which President Obama signed into law in January.

“There’s no question that to implement what really is a whole new food safety system that Congress has outlined in this law we’ve got to make some investments above our current funding,” said Taylor during a recent policy address at George Washington University. “It does mean getting some meaningful increases over the next few years to get our base up above where it is today.”

The current appropriations bill would also reduce the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service budget by $35 million. A release by the subcommittee notes that the proposed funding level “will continue critical meat, poultry, and egg product inspection and testing activities, and supports an expansion of a poultry inspection pilot project that will lead to improving food safety.”

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