The food industry is telling Congress it is all for food safety, it just does not want to pay for it.
No less than 17 food industry organizations signed on to that message, which came in the form of a letter to the congressmen in charge of the budget for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“Imposing new fees on food facilities would represent a food safety tax on consumers,” the March 10 letter says.
Instead, the food industry says it wants to “find a better and less burdensome solution.” Federal food safety currently is almost entirely paid for by the U.S. Treasury, which gets its money from taxpayers and, recently, by borrowing about 40 cents out of every dollar it needs.
President Obama’s proposed FDA budget for 2012 included “food safety fees” to fund the new Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), according to the food industry’s letter.
“While ensuring the safety of the U.S. food supply is the number one priority of our organizations and the food producers we represent, we urge you to reject any efforts to create a new food tax on consumers and food companies,” says the industry letter.
The letter says the White House wants $100 million in “targeted funds” for 2012 to implement FSMA, but “Congressional budget experts predict” it will take $300 million to implement. “Given the discrepancy, the administration should have requested more funds for FDA in their budget submission rather than relying on congressionally rejected user fees to make up the difference,” they say.
The industry’s position is that Congress should impose no new user fees on food producers. “As food companies and consumers continue to cope with a period of prolonged economic turbulence, the creation of a new food tax would mean high costs for businesses and higher food prices for consumers.”
Signing the letter were representatives of the: American Bakers Association, American Frozen Food Institute, American Meat Institute, Frozen Potato Products Institute, Independent Bakers Association, International Bottled Water Association, National Chicken Council, National Confectioners Association, National Fisheries Institute, National Frozen Pizza Institute, National Grain and Feed Association, National Meat Association, Pet Food Institute, Produce Marketers Association, Snack Food Association, United Egg Producers and United Fresh Produce Association.
The organizations directed their lobbying to the leadership of the Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA and Related Agencies. Jack Kingston, R-GA, is chairman and Sam Farr, D-CA, is the ranking member of the subcommittee.