During the past week, Food Safety News brought readers the details on the proposal for food safety funding in President Obama’s $3.7 trillion budget.

Helena Bottemiller, our capitol correspondent, reported the President was putting FDA in for an additional $170 million for food safety, while trimming USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service back by $8 million.

How these recommendations will hold up in Congress remains to be seen.

One number caught my eye–only $11 million in FSIS fees would come from the beef, pork, and poultry industries. To put that into context, consider the fact that in 2009 the retail value of beef alone was $73 billion.

If my math is correct, that would make 2011-12 fees total 0.015 percent of the 2009 retail sales for just beef.  J. Patrick Boyle is acting all outraged about that.

Perhaps due to the tiny reliance on fees, the actual amount for meat inspection will decline to $889 million, down from $904 million.

Boyle, president and chief executive officer of the American Meat Institute, hates fees.  “If passed, these fees would ultimately pick the pocket of the American consumer, who already has been taxed once for the operating budget of government’s food safety program.  Meat inspection is a mandated federal program which benefits public health and should be paid for by the federal government,” Boyle says.

J. Patrick, you are so full of it.  But to keep myself in line with the publisher’s new rules, let me say Mr. Boyle is a savvy Washington D.C. insider who does a superb job for the meat industry.

Still — my truck is inspected annually under a mandated state safety program, and I pay for it.

J. Patrick knows that for every dollar FSIS needs to provide continuous USDA inspection service at the more than 600 federal establishments that serve AMI clients, forty cents has to be borrowed from somewhere–usually China. 

Talk about “picking the pocket of the American consumer!”   It will take 30 or 40 years before the full cost of inspection service is paid off.

Let me say it again. The food safety system should not be funded out of the general fund.    It’s too erratic, and too dependent on debt.  Fees that, yes, will be passed on to consumers should fund it, or most of it.

AMI takes great pride in the fact that it has beat down the implementation of fees that were proposed by past administrations and it will go about doing it again with the Obama budget.

But it is a dinosaur move. The smart move is getting out of being a general fund dependent and subsidized industry. The smart move is running from that as fast as you can.