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Food-Safety Advocates Applaud Increased FSMA, NARMS Funding

Food-safety advocates were pleased to see increased funding for the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System for Enteric Bacteria (NARMS) in the $1.1-trillion spending bill President Barack Obama signed on Tuesday.

The bill provides almost $2.6 billion in discretionary funding for the Food and Drug Administration, including $903 million for the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition and $147 million for the Center for Veterinary Medicine.

This includes an increase of $27.5 million over 2014 enacted funding levels for food safety activities, which is at least $2.5 million more than the House and Senate had added in their original agriculture appropriations for fiscal year 2015.

“We’re very pleased,” said Sandra Eskin, director of food safety at The Pew Charitable Trusts.

With the first FSMA rules to be finalized by Aug. 30, 2015, the increased funding is important for retraining inspectors, improving IT capacity, providing technical assistance to small growers and processors, and developing partnerships with state and local agencies.

When FSMA was approved in 2010, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that FDA would need an increase of more than $580 million to fund the expanded food safety activities. FDA has since revised that estimate to between $400 and $450 million.

Implementing FSMA will require even more funding in the FY 2016 budget and beyond, but Eskin said that allocating the majority of FDA’s overall increase to food safety is “a promising signal for the future that FSMA continues to be a priority.”

The bill also included a $3 million increase in budget authority for NARMS, which Laura Rogers, director of Pew’s antibiotic resistance project, said will mean that, “FDA can better evaluate the public health benefits of its new policy to withdraw antibiotics for growth promotion in food animals.”

NARMS was funded at $7.8 million for FY 2014. In September, Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) urged the president to include $15 million in his FY 2016 budget request for the system.

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