The Obama administration released late last week the details of its 2010 budget, which includes $75 million in new user fees to register food facilities and increase food safety inspections by the Food and Drug Administration. Until now, taxpayers have funded FDA's food safety inspection costs, along with the meat and poultry inspection program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. IDFA opposes the new FDA user fees.
The budget aims to fund a major FDA initiative, called Protecting America's Food Supply. Designed to protect American consumers from intentional and unintentional food contamination, the initiative would focus on "foreign and domestic sources of ingredients, components and finished products" at all points in the supply chain.
"While IDFA supports the need to fully fund FDA's staffing and modernization costs, these budget increases should not be covered by new industry fees. The proposed fees would exacerbate the inconsistencies in food safety protection efforts across the government, and would be especially difficult for many small dairy businesses," said Ruth Saunders, IDFA senior director for policy and legislative affairs.
The new fees would represent more than a 10 percent increase in the FDA budget, currently funded at $649 million. Although no food safety inspection fees were proposed to cover routine inspection costs for meat and poultry, USDA's budget would be funded at over $1 billion, reflecting an increase of $47 million.
FDA cannot implement the new user fees without congressional approval. IDFA is working on Capitol Hill to oppose any new industry fees that would fund routine FDA inspection costs. Performance-based fees and fees for accelerated FDA services, however, would be acceptable, Saunders said.
Details and further information on the FDA budget are available at www.fda.gov/oc/oms/ofm/budget/documentation.htm