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House Appropriations Gives FSMA $41.5-Million Increase

The House Appropriations Committee has allocated a $41.5-million increase for the Food and Drug Administration’s food safety activities for fiscal year 2016, but it’s less than half of what President Obama’s budget requested.

Agriculture Subcommittee Chairman Robert Aderholt (R-AL) said Thursday in his opening remarks before the subcommittee’s markup of the draft appropriations bill that the increase is “to help implement the pending regulations associated with the Food Safety Modernization Act.”

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photo-us-capitol-building-spring-west-front-dome-under-scaffolding-restoration-image53398765He also said that the bill includes a funding increase for the Department of Agriculture’s Extension services “instead of FDA officials to serve as the sole educator at the farm level on FSMA regulations.”

The administration’s budget request released in February asked for a $109.5-million increase over the previous year for FSMA implementation as the law’s major rules are finalized by the end of FY 2016.

Before leaving her post as FDA Commissioner in March, Dr. Margaret Hamburg told both the House and Senate agriculture appropriations subcommittees that more money is critical for modernizing inspections and retraining staff, providing guidance and technical assistance, working with states, and raising the level of oversight overseas.

“Significant funding gaps still loom,” Hamburg told the Senate subcommittee. “I cannot overstate the importance of our request to fund continued implementation of FSMA. A shortfall in funding will undermine Congress’ intent to transform our country’s food safety program and will harm all stakeholders.”

Dozens of public health groups have also written to House and Senate appropriations leaders urging them to meet the president’s request for $109.5 million more.

It’s a modest request in relation to the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) original estimate of FSMA funding needs, wrote Michael Taylor, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods, in March. When FSMA was approved in 2010, CBO estimated that FDA would need an additional $580 million in funding over a five-year period to effectively implement the law.

“With the full $109.5 million in new budget authority, our total FSMA funding increases would still be less than half of what CBO estimated is needed for success,” Taylor wrote.

Sandra Eskin, director of food safety for The Pew Charitable Trusts, told Food Safety News that while the $41.5-million increase is a sign that FSMA is a congressional priority, it’s not enough for full implementation. She is hopeful that the Senate Appropriations Committee may still decide to include the full $109.5-million requested increase in its version of the funding bill.

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