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House Budget Seeks Steep Spending Cuts

Both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service could face cuts under a new budget proposal put out by House Republicans on Tuesday.

Though the budget outline, released by Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), does not contain specific program cuts, the document seeks broad reductions in both agriculture and health spending over the next 10 years — FDA is under the umbrella of Health and Human Services. The proposal cuts an additional $5.3 trillion over the next decade, compared to the reductions in President Obama’s budget request.

The House proposal seeks a $33.2 billion reduction in agriculture spending over the next 10 years. The document details restructuring food stamps and commodity and crop insurance subsidies, but does not specify which discretionary programs should take cuts or at what level. By comparison, the Obama administration seeks a $32 billion reduction over the next 10 years.
It is not clear what impact deep health spending cuts might have on FDA, as the agency’s budget is a very small portion of federal health spending.
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) praised the budget as evidence of Republican leadership deficit reduction, but cautioned that neither the Obama budget nor the House budget would dictate the final outcome.

“They are only suggestions,” said Lucas in a statement. “During our process, both policy and deficit reduction targets will be developed in conjunction with ranking member [Collin] Peterson [D-MN] and members of the committee as we write a fiscally responsible farm bill that ensures Americans continue to have a safe, affordable, and stable food supply.”

Steven Grossman, the executive director of the Alliance for a Stronger FDA, said that while the Ryan budget has no specifics, the fact that the House again seeks significantly lower spending levels could compel Congress “to cut more programs and more deeply.”

During last year’s appropriations process, FDA got relatively lucky. Though the House sought a more than $250 million cut from the agency, the Senate ended up prevailing with a $50 million boost.
“Based on last summer’s agreement on overall spending levels (the Budget Control Act of 2011), we have assumed that budgets would be extremely tight for FY 13, but that FDA still had a very good chance to avoid a cut and might even merit an increase,” said Grossman in a budgetary update last week. “We still believe that’s possible … but the macro-budgetary political situation is about to take a turn for the worse.”

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