A proposal by conservative House Republicans to cut and freeze non-defense discretionary spending from 2012 to 2021 would have a major impact on food safety oversight, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The House Republican Study Committee (RSC), made up of 165 House Republicans, unveiled their plan to cut spending: across the board cuts of over 40 percent in every sector of the U.S. government–save for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the Defense Department. Non-security discretionary spending accounts for about 13 percent of the federal budget.

House Speaker John Boehner’s recently released plan also proposes across the board cuts in “non-security” discretionary spending by $100 billion in fiscal year 2011, which comes out to a 21 percent across the board cut compared with 2010, adjusted for inflation, according to the left-leaning budget think tank.

“Boehner’s proposal would represent the deepest annual cut in funding for these programs in recent U.S. history,” said James Horney, the director of fiscal policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “But, the RSC’s longer term plan…would go much, much further. By 2021, it would reduce non-defense appropriations by 42 percent below what the Congressional Budget Office says is needed to maintain last year’s funding level, adjusted only for inflation.”

According to the think tank, that would mean a 42 percent cut for a broad range of government services and programs–including the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Food Safety and Inspection Service.

“The House majority, of course, could decide to meet its overall target for non-defense discretionary spending while protecting one or more of the programs and services listed above,” explained Horney, on the organization’s blog. “But, a cut of less than 42 percent in, say, education or environmental protection would necessitate even more draconian cuts in, say, food safety and border security.”

The Alliance for a Stronger FDA, an advocacy group made up of industry and consumer groups, as well as a long list of former FDA commissioners and Secretaries of Health, says it will fight to protect the U.S. Food and Drug Administration from budget cuts.  

“The Alliance is aware of the economic and budgetary imperative to control federal spending,” said Steve Grossman, the group’s deputy executive director, in an email response to Food Safety News. “Because of decades of funding neglect and rapidly growing responsibilities, the FDA needs to be an exception to the budget-cutting that is likely to occur this year and next.” 

“We believe Congress is sympathetic to our viewpoint and that FDA will weather this storm,” added Grossman. “The Alliance is deeply committed to strengthening FDA through increased budget authority (BA) appropriations. We will be campaigning hard this year to accomplish this end.”

A number of other consumer and industry coalitions have indicated they will lobby for increasing FDA’s budget in the coming years–especially to fund the new mandate posed by the recently-enacted food safety law–but key Republicans have questioned whether food safety warrants greater spending.

  • ecofoodologist

    I think this is a great site with a lot of great information and Hellena Botemiller is one of my favorite reporters here. But I can’t abide considering a coalition of 165 elected reps a “think tank.” I can can only use their own words to support my position, but find their characterization as “left leaning” worthy of elaboration. Their priorities are listed at;
    Their mission statement and “Conservative Check Card,” with the exception of the last objective (No, 6), are loaded with the subtext that panders to bigotry and class division. (The pandering is most clear in objectives 4 & 5, which contradict each other.)
    I hope someday to return to pride and inclusiveness in conservatism, and Obama’s embrace of WalMart and failure to mention real food security in his State of the Union Message nudges certainly nudges me further from his flock. But not enough push to embrace these alleged “left leaners” cited in this article.
    When some future Congress and President get serious about slashing the law enforcement budget cannabis will be legalized. When they get serous about food safety they will stop pandering to corporate ag, who want to make agriculture a proprietary process under level 3 biohazard rules.
    BTW-My only dog in the cannabis fight is my federal, state and local budget…inhaled many times but don’t care to again.

  • Minkpuppy

    Why isn’t FSIS commenting on proposed cuts? A 42% cut to meat inspection funding will be not be good–no vacancies filled, overworked inspectors due to those vacancies, training on hold due to travel restrictions, plants not being able to work because there’s no inspector available because no money to hire one. I could go on and on. There’s plants out there that will risk working without inspection because they can’t afford to be down and that is not good for public health. When the cats away, the mice will play.
    Make the cuts where they’re needed by getting rid of unnecessary admin positions. Please don’t screw with the inspection force. We’re just trying to make a living like everyone else. Contrary to popular belief, most inspectors (or govt workers in general) do not make $150,000+/yr!

  • Julie

    While I know that ‘Food Safety News’ is pro-‘Food Safety Modernization Act’ (and I understand why, as well), I am personally delighted that the Republicans (ans I’m not one of THEM, either) will be making deep budgetary cuts as outlined in the article. I’m ESPECIALLY delighted that the FDA will be suffering that same fate as all the other departments who think their department, in particular, should be immune.
    Anyone who keeps up with the news coming out of the FDA knows beyond any doubt that the FDA is owned, lock-stock-and-barrel, by Big Pharma, Big Agribusiness, and major corporations. In a corrupt government, the FDA is the poster child.
    The reality is that the agency should be disbanded completely and a new agency formulated – with NONE OF THE SAME PEOPLE involved, and a long list of checks and balances to prevent the same thing from happening. That would be a START.
    The food safety, at the consumer level, in this country is quite good. It’s the factory farms where the bulk of the problems exist . . . and meat and eggs are not under the auspices of the FDA (that’s the USDA). So, even if the Food Safety Modernization Act were going full steam ahead, we’d still have massive meat recalls on a regular basis.
    So, as I see it, ANYONE who has a serious interest in seeing the FDA retain all of it’s funding, and more, must have a financial interest in the way things are run there. With the way Big Pharma, Big Agribusiness and companies like Monsanto (the winner of the Most Hated Company in the World for 2010 over at NaturalNews.com) throw their money around, it’s understandable that some folks might be nervous that their ‘funding’ might be drying up, too.

  • Do those of you who make such deragatory comments about the pharma industry or the FDA actually know anything about either one??? Do you have any idea about what it takes to get a drug approved-industry or regulatory-wise? You really shouldn’t comment about things you are apparently completely ignorant of. Just remember the thalidomide disaster–Thanks to the intuition of the Food and Drug Administration’s Dr. Frances Kelsey,* the U.S. has got off lightly because the drug was never licensed for general use. In the half dozen reported U.S. cases of birth malformations due to thalidomide, the drug was obtained from abroad. Do you really want to go back to the wild west snake oil days??? It’s your tax dollars-but it’s also your health at stake. So be careful what you wish (or vote) for!

  • Robert

    Johnsod4, the amount of money thrown at something does not guaranty it will be healthful or helpful to human kind. If you look at the history of the FDA approved drugs that later get pulled as safety hazards, you always seem to see where the FDA ignored scientific dara that could have prevented drug related deaths. They also allow people from companies that could benefit from an approved product to sit in authoritative positions on their panels.
    If you really wish to learn about the capacity for treachery of the FDA and Big Pharmacy, you should check out the sites, http://www.healthfreedomUSA and http://www.askdrmercola.com, and you would also do well to learn more about something called Codex Alimentariis which the food safety bill threatens to bring us. This is already affecting Europe adversely. Good health to you.