WASHINGTON – A diverse group of food and agriculture organizations, including the American Meat Institute, is urging the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to formulate a fiscally sound budget plan that ensures appropriate funding for priority government functions, such as food safety, while charting a path towards national deficit and debt reduction.

“We believe maintaining the safety of the US food supply is a top national priority,” states the letter to Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), committee co-chairs. “As you draft a plan to finance the federal government into the future, we urge you to ensure federal food safety programs receive the funding necessary to keep America’s food supply safe without imposing any new food taxes or user fees on consumers and food makers.”

Food-safety programs and inspections conducted under the auspices of the Food and Drug Administration benefit all American consumers and, therefore, should be funded by appropriated funds, the letter noted.

“As consumers continue to cope with a period of prolonged economic turbulence and food makers struggle with record high commodity prices, the creation of a new food tax would mean higher costs for food makers and lead to higher food prices for consumers. We urge the committee to reject imposing new fees on food producers and consumers,” the letter concluded.