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House Panel Approves Bill To Keep FDA Funding Flat

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture Wednesday approved funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for fiscal year 2013 with no new funding for food safety.

The bill — which still must go through the full House Appropriations Committee and the House before being reconciled with the Senate version — would provide $996 million for the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, $9 million below fiscal year 2012, and $2.5 billion in discretionary funding for FDA, a $16.3 million cut. The proposal comes as FDA seeks substantially more resources to help implement the Food Safety Modernization Act.

“This legislation builds on the bipartisan work of our subcommittee to support agriculture and nutrition, and increase efficiency and effectiveness at the Agriculture Department and the agencies we oversee,” said subcommittee chairman Jack Kingston (R-GA). “It will help ensure a safe and abundant food and drug supply and spur rural economic growth while checking the growth of government using common sense reforms.”

According to a breakdown by the Alliance for Stronger FDA, a coalition of consumer and industry groups that lobby for agency funding, the House bill would give FDA $866 million for the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, which is the same funding level as last year and $1 million below the current Senate proposal.

The Alliance said Tuesday before the House markup that it was pleased the committee wasn’t seeking large cuts, but expressed reservations about certain parts of the plan.

“The House subcomittee’s position reflects a significant change from a year ago when it proposed a substantial cut in FDA funding,” said the group.

“We express appreciation for Chairman Jack Kingston and Ranking Member Sam Farr for leading this re-evaluation of the importance of FDA and recognizing the need to fund FDA’s growing responsibilities,” continued the statement. “Their support is particularly notable because the House was working this year with a considerably lower aggregate spending level than the Senate.”

The Alliance said it had questions about why the committee was not seeking funds for the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, and why there did not seem to be funding for three of the FDA Commissioner’s priorities: a China import initiative, funding to implement the Food Safety and Modernization Act, and purchasing scientific equipment to outfit the new biosciences building scheduled to open in FY 13.

House ag appropriations documents are available here.

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