A food safety line item in the federal budget would go a long way toward “bringing clarity and certainty” to the human foods programs of the Food and Drug Administration.

House and Senate Appropriations leaders are finding themselves subject to just such a lobbying approach by some 21 consumer and industry groups as well as state and local food safety agencies.

In letters to House and Senate Appropriations leaders, the food safety line item advocates call the elected officials to FDA’s restructuring of the human foods program to “streamline operations and better fulfill its mission of food safety protection.”

The letters seek a food safety line item in the FDA’s fiscal year 2025 appropriation. In this way, Congress can help modernize the human foods program.

Currently, the FDA’s budget calls for a cut of $34 million in state and local programs, which would be reduced to $83 million from current levels of over $117 million. The cuts would “decimate” state and local programs.

Signing on to the letters are representatives of the American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI); Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO); Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO); Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL); Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO); Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI); Conference for Food Protection (CFP); Consumer Brands Association (CBA); Consumer Federation of America; Consumer Report; FMI – The Food Industry Association, George Washington University; Milken Institute School of Public Health, International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA), Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference (ISSC); National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA); National Conference of Interstate Milk Shipments (NCIMS); National Environmental Health Association (NEHA); Pet Food Institute; Stop Foodborne Illness, and Western Growers. 

Bipartisan appropriation leaders were urged to take advantage of the current restructuring of the FDA human foods program to streamline operations and better fulfill its mission of food safety protection. The groups believe that while many of the proposed changes will strengthen the FDA’s ability to ensure the safety of our food supply, Congress can help modernize the human foods program by bringing clarity and certainty to the agency’s budget. 

The letters further explained that despite the critical role played by state and local food agencies, those agencies frequently lack the budgetary certainty needed to operate effectively, which leads to difficulties in hiring and maintaining an adequate number of properly trained staff. 

Although increased funding provided since the passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act has significantly enhanced state and local agencies’ capacity to fulfill their food safety mission, the FDA often uses funds meant for state and local agencies to pursue other priorities while giving little to no warning to impacted agencies. 

Further, the groups believe a “consistent and predictable funding mechanism for state and local programs is needed. As such, it urged including a line item detailing specific funding for state and local food safety issues in the budget allocation for FDA to ensure state and local programs have the budgetary certainty needed to carry out their work.” 

The letters to House and Senate Appropriation leaders can be found in their entirety here:

Senate letter https://www.afdo.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/May-2024-State-and-Local-Funding-Letter-Senate.pdf

House of Representatives letter https://www.afdo.org/wp- content/uploads/2024/05/May-2024-State-and-Local-Funding-Letter-House.pdf

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