The increased funding the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has requested for implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) in fiscal year 2016 was one of the key topics of discussion Wednesday during a House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee hearing. Outgoing FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg made her last appearance before the committee since she is stepping down from her position at the end of the month. The committee members took the opportunity to express their thanks for her six years in the position. “There is bicameral and bipartisan respect for the way you have provided leadership in your role,” said Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL). After thanking Hamburg for her work, Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY), chairman of the full appropriations committee, expressed concern at the size of FDA’s budget request. “This is the largest FDA request in recent history, and while you’ve indeed taken cues from Congress to utilize budget authority rather than saddling industry with” user fees, Rogers said, adding that the $109.5-million increase for FSMA implementation “will be tough to swallow.” “You have made a substantial budget authority request as we asked you to do,” noted Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT). With the ball now in the lawmakers’ court, DeLauro wanted to know what would happen if FDA doesn’t get the funding it needs for 2016. Hamburg replied that it’s one of the agency’s “great worries” because “implementing it right matters to everyone” and a lack of adequate funding would result in a “fragmented effort.” Ahead of the budget hearing, 24 public health groups sent a letter to House and Senate appropriations leaders, urging them to meet the president’s request of $109.5 million more for FSMA implementation. “FDA’s efforts to modernize its regulatory systems and workforce to meet this public health challenge begin this year in earnest with the finalization of the implementing rules that govern FSMA’s scope and impact,” the groups wrote. “We are encouraged by the President’s substantial budget request of $109.5 million in new Budget Authority (BA) for FDA food safety and we understand that this request reflects FDA’s urgent need to invest immediately to get FSMA up and running to secure our food supply.” The funding is important for inspector training, technical assistance, working with states and raising the level of oversight overseas, Hamburg said. “We do need real money to get the job done,” she said. “If we make this investment, it will benefit all.” During the hearing, Rep. David Young (R-IA) asked Hamburg about the consolidation of FDA’s food safety components and the Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) into a new agency within the Department of Health and Human Services, as the president proposed in his budget request. In particular, Young wanted to know whether the best place for such an agency would be within HHS. “I think it’s a discussion worth having in terms of how can we best align the different components of government that are involved in food safety and what kind of an organizational structure would be necessary to best support that,” Hamburg said. Other food topics touched on during Wednesday’s hearing were the recommendations of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee and a discussion of whether FDA should be given the authority to evaluate dietary supplements at a higher standard due to concerns about contaminants and false and misleading claims.