The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is requesting a budget of $4.9 billion as part of President Barack Obama’s fiscal year (FY) 2016 budget, which the administration released this week. FDA’s request represents a nine percent increase over the enacted budget for FY 2015 and includes $147.7 million to support the implementation of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act and other initiatives. In addition, the president’s budget includes a request for more than $1 billion to fund ongoing and new efforts to reduce antibiotic resistance.
IDFA Supports FDA Inspector Training, Opposes New User Fees
FDA estimates that more scientists, doctors, analysts and inspectors will be necessary to fulfill the agency’s evolving mission. The agency said the budget increase would allow FDA to add staff and train new inspectors, provide industry guidance about the changes FSMA will bring, strengthen the role of the states in helping to ensure food safety, and build and implement a new import safety system.
“IDFA applauds the agency’s focus on allocation of resources to support the educational efforts needed—for both industry and regulatory inspectors—to appropriately implement the Food Safety Modernization Act,” said John Allan, IDFA vice president of regulatory affairs and scientific standards. “We would welcome more specialized and efficient training, along with workforce changes that would dedicate inspectors strictly for food facilities.”
Also included in FDA’s request are proposals to collect registration, inspection and importer fees to cover the costs of additional plant inspections and border checks. IDFA continues to oppose new user fees.
Single Food Safety Agency Proposed
In addition, the FY 2016 budget calls for creating a single federal agency to oversee all issues related to food safety, with a goal of streamlining oversight and enhancing efficiency. Currently, FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) oversee the majority of food safety issues, but as many as 20 other federal agencies also have some responsibility.
Last week, Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) put forward the “Safe Food Act of 2015,” proposing a similar idea. Historically, however, such proposals have failed to get anywhere in Congress due, in part, to concerns over the bureaucratic difficulties that go along with such massive reorganizations.
Combatting Antibiotic Resistance
The President’s budget asks for more than $1 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and USDA to strengthen ongoing efforts to combat and prevent antibiotic resistance by stepping up research and surveillance.
HHS would nearly double its 2015 funding level, with FDA receiving $47 million to support antibiotic stewardship in animal agriculture. It would include additional efforts to promote the existing voluntary plan to phase out the use of medically important antimicrobials in animals for food production.
USDA would nearly quadruple its funding to $77 million to develop alternatives to existing antibiotics and offer training on improved management and animal care practices.
Congress will consider these and other proposals in the president's budget during its annual budget appropriations cycle. But many Congressional leaders wasted no time in sharing their positions, including House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway (R-TX).
According to a report yesterday in Politico Pro, Conaway told officials of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture that the budget proposal would not gain traction among legislators. He later told reporters that the budget would be “dead on arrival.” Congress has repeatedly rejected user fees and the concept of a single agency for food safety issues.
Members may login to read a memorandum about the budget prepared by Hogan Lovells LLP, IDFA’s outside counsel.
Members with questions may contact Allan at firstname.lastname@example.org.