Sept16FDA-hearingIt’s an oft-heard statement from officials at the Food and Drug Administration: The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) requires sufficient funding allocated by Congress in order to be a success. The testimony that Acting FDA Commissioner Stephen Ostroff and Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine Michael Taylor gave before the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee on Wednesday was no different, although the discussion was not wholly focused on funding. “The request that we made for this fiscal year for FSMA implementation, from my perspective, is absolutely critical to its success,” Ostroff said. The president’s budget request for fiscal year 2016 asks for a $109.5-million increase for FDA. Earlier this summer, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees allocated $41.5-million and $45-million increases, respectively, for FDA’s food safety activities. “We do know, without question, that unless we receive the total amount of the request, that something is going to have to give in some aspect of what we’re doing,” Ostroff said. The consequence would be “some incredibly difficult choices.” Subcommittee Chairman Jerry Moran (R-KS) said that FSMA funding is a priority of his, and that although the subcommittee hasn’t been able to meet the president’s budget request, if the amount of money they have to work with changes, “we’re interested in reviewing and reprioritizing based upon what the needs are of FDA and others.” Moran, who asked nearly all of the questions during the 90-minute hearing, wanted to know whether there are opportunities to reprioritize existing spending due to the implementation of FSMA. “Are there any savings to occur?” he asked. The short answer is “no.” “This is not going to require fewer people to be successful,” Ostroff offered. “It doesn’t mean we can stop spending the money that’s needed to support that workforce,” Taylor said. “We have to, in fact, invest in it so it can work in this modern, prevention-oriented way, in a much more sophisticated regulatory framework. It’s redeployment as opposed to adding on resources on top of resources that are still deployed doing the old thing.” (To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)