Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Sam Farr (D-CA) are calling on the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to request full funding for implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) rather than continuing to consider user fees as a funding source.
For the FY 2015 budget, FDA requested $ 1.48 billion for food safety activities. The $ 263 million increase over the FY 2014 enacted level included an additional $ 24 million in budget authority. The request also included $ 255 million in proposed new user fees, including Food Import and Food Facility Registration and Inspection fees.
In their letter to HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, DeLauro and Farr asked that the Food and Drug Administration “discontinue [the] request for FSMA user fees as they hide the true cost of implementation and will likely be rejected again.”
Congress has rejected the administration’s last five requests for user fees to help implement FSMA, they said.
DeLauro and Farr both serve on House Appropriations Subcommittee for Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies. During the subcommittee’s hearing in March to discuss the 2015 budget, Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) asked FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg whether the agency will need more than the proposed $ 24-million increase requested in discretionary funding.
“To make the kind of progress that we want to make in terms of implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act and the new roles and responsibilities and authorities that Congress gave us … we do need the amount requested in the president’s budget overall,” Hamburg said.
That sentiment echoes FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine Michael Taylor’s testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in February: “We will continue efforts to make the best use of the resources we have, but simply put, we cannot achieve FDA’s vision of a modern food safety system and a safer food supply without a significant increase in resources.”
Rather than relying on the user fees that face so much resistance from Congress and industry, DeLauro and Farr want to see “a request for much higher budget authority for FSMA implementation” in the president’s FY 2016 budget.
“In the four years since FSMA was enacted, Congress has provided some of the funding necessary for FSMA implementation, but much more funding will be required to make the larger, up-front investments necessary to ensure the public-health benefits the law promises,” DeLauro and Farr wrote to Burwell and in a second letter to Shaun Donovan, director of the Office of Management and Budget. “Once the major rules are completed in the coming year, FDA will require additional funding to fully implement FSMA.”
When FSMA was approved in 2010, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that FDA would need an increase of more than $ 580 million to fund the expanded food safety activities. FDA has since revised that estimate to between $ 400 and $ 450 million.
The agriculture appropriations bills failed to pass either the House or the Senate this summer. Fiscal Year 2015 begins Oct. 1, so when the House returns from recess in September, it will consider a vote on a short-term continuing resolution that would fund the federal government at current levels until mid-December. After the midterm election on Nov. 4, Congress could vote on a FY 2015 omnibus bill or a second continuing resolution that funds the federal government for the rest of the next fiscal year, or until Sept. 30, 2015.