President's budget increases food safety spending

by Keith Nunes
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WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama submitted his administration’s budget proposal for fiscal 2014 to Congress on April 10, and requested $4.7 billion for the Food and Drug Administration. Within the proposed FDA budget is an increase over the FDA’s fiscal year 2012 budget of $295.8 million for the implementation and management of the Food Safety Modernization Act.

The FDA said 94 percent of the proposed budget increase would be funded by user fees and the remaining portion of the increase would be funded through the agency’s budget authority. The FDA proposal includes three current user fees for food facility registration, inspection, and for the inspection of food importers. The proposal also features a new user fee to support the FDA’s food contact substance notification program.

The food contact user fee would generate $4,458,000 to maintain the program, according to the FDA. The agency said the food contact notification program is “simpler, more efficient, and requires fewer resources than the alternative food additive petition process,” in justifying the creation of the user fee.

A key aspect of the president’s budget, according to the Alliance for a Stronger FDA, is that the base is compared to fiscal year 2012 rather than fiscal year 2013, which includes cuts due to the sequester. By using fiscal 2012 as the base, the Alliance said the president’s proposed increases look much larger than if they had been compared to fiscal 2013.

The Alliance also said the budget proposal for all discretionary spending is substantially more than will be allowed under the Budget Control Act of 2011. If a larger budget deal is adopted that sets up a scenario where discretionary spending cuts are replaced with tax changes and entitlement reforms.

“That would be supportive of the FDA funding level proposed by the president,” the Alliance said.

If such a deal is not adopted, then the appropriations committees will need to cut billions of dollars from the president’s overall request either by direct cuts or across-the-board rescissions or sequester.

“The goal for FDA funding advocates will be to preserve and increase funding levels to reflect the growing responsibilities and expanding mission of the agency,” the Alliance said. “We will encourage appropriators to look at preserving funding for the highest national priorities, such as FDA. Thus, we want appropriators to set budgets, not be again placed in a position where deficit reduction is enforced by across-the-board cuts.”

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