The Super Committee charged with cutting at least $1.5 trillion from future federal spending should not count on any new food safety taxes or fees, says a growing coalition of food and agriculture organizations.
In an Oct. 4 letter to the leadership of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, the food and agriculture groups urged the Super Committee to stay away from food safety taxes and fees.
“As you draft a plan to finance the federal government into the future,” the letter says, “we urge you to ensure federal food safety programs receive the funding necessary to keep America’s food supply safe without imposing any new food taxes or user fees on consumers and food makers.”
“Federal food safety programs and inspections conducted under the auspices of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) benefit all American consumers and therefore should be funded by appropriated funds,” the Oct. 4 letter continues. “Imposing new user fees on food makers is the wrong option for supporting food safety programs as businesses can ill afford new cost burdens, which ultimately would represent a new food safety tax on consumers.”
The letter was sent to the Super Committee through its co-chairs, Sen. Patty Murray, D-WA, and Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-TX.
The food and agricultural groups are concerned about suggestions in the Obama Administration’s 2012 proposed budget that more revenue be raised from food safety user fees. “The Administration will work with Congress to enact additional food safety fees to support the full implementation of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA),” the letter adds.
The industry groups say the exact nature of the fees for food safety is not yet known, but collections would begin in 2013. They say Congress has previously rejected fees and the House-passed budget for 2012 does not authorize any new FSMA fees
While the latest letter is largely directed at FDA funding, it is very similar to the Sept. 19 letter to the Super Committee from 20 meat, poultry and egg groups who are opposed to any new fees or taxes for food safety programs conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Signers of the Oct. 4 letter include: American Bakers Association, American Fruit and Vegetable Processors and Growers Coalition, American Frozen Food Institute,
American Meat Institute (AMI), Association of Food Industries, California League of Food Processors, Frozen Potato Products Institute, Independent Bakers Association and International Bottled Water Association.
Also signing were: Midwest Food Processors Association, National Chicken Council, National Confectioners Association, National Fisheries Institute, National Frozen Pizza Institute, National Grain and Feed Association, National Meat Association, National Turkey Federation and North American Miller’s Association.
Rounding out the list of 24 signers were: the Pet Food Institute, Produce Marketing Association, Snack Food Association, United Egg Producers and United Fresh Produce Association.
Several meat and poultry organizations signed both letters.
Currently, most food safety costs are paid from “appropriated funds,” meaning they are either picked up by taxpayers or paid with money the government borrows, a practice that adds to the federal deficit.
The Super Committee is charged with making $1.5 trillion in cuts, or automatic, across-the-board-cuts will take effect.