The American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) urged the Obama Administration to develop a fiscal year (FY) 2017 budget that adequately funds FDA food safety programs, especially around the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
It sent a letter last week to the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell and Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan.
FY 2017 budget will be presented to Congress in February next year. The FY 2016 budget begins from next month (October).
Passing on of prices
The AFFI-led coalition cautioned that imposing new food taxes will have “crippling” economic effects.
“As consumers continue to cope with a period of prolonged economic recovery and food makers and retailers struggle with fluctuating commodity prices, the creation of new food taxes or regulatory fees would mean higher costs for food makers and lead to higher retail food prices for the most vulnerable consumers.”
AFFI said it had done and has planned webinars and a conference with a session dedicated to FSMA and the first preventative controls rule.
It also developed a self-assessment tool for members, with their support, to be in a good position for when the FSMA rules become active.
The group said member companies are doing a lot of preparation which requires resources to be allocated.
Other groups include the American Bakers Association, American Dairy Products Institute, American Spice Trade Association, Canned Food Alliance, Grocery Manufacturers Association, Produce Marketing Association and Snack Food Association (see letter and all associations here).
FDA proposed FY2016 budget
FDA’s proposed FY 2016 budget included plans for a food facility registration and inspection fee to fund agency activities related to FSMA.
AFFI said Congress has “rightly” rejected such fees when they have been proposed in the past.
“We believe that while FDA requires additional funds in FY 2017 in order to support food inspection activities and meet the upcoming implementation deadlines of the FDA FSMA, the administration should seek all such funding through the Congressional budget and appropriations process rather than asking for authorization of new regulatory taxes that Congress has repeatedly rejected.”
FDA’s budget request for the last four years recommended raising revenue from new facility registration fees to help fund food safety activities.
Congress rejected those proposals and it considered and failed to adopt food facility registration fees during its consideration and passage of FSMA in 2011, said AFFI.
FY 2016 budget request provides $1.5bn for food safety, which is $301m above the FY 2015 Enacted level.
This includes a $109.5m increase in budget authority and a $191.8m increase in user fees.
The proposed budget authority increase will be almost exclusively dedicated to implementation of FSMA, said FDA.
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a $45m increase to implement major portions of FSMA in July - which is $60m short of the request.