Obama administration proposes FDA budget increase, user fees

By Sara Wyant

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, February 15, 2012 -President Obama's fiscal 2013 budget plan proposes a 17% budget increase for the FDA with an overall $4.5 billion plan, $253 million of which marked for the Transforming Food Safety Initiative. The initiative is meant to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) with the support of new user fees as well as the boosted budget.

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Several food industry groups oppose the fees, saying it will already cost millions for facilities to comply with the upcoming FSMA regulations. The regulations were expected to be released early last month, but the White House is still reviewing them.

The proposed FDA budget is $654 million more than last year and industry user fees would fund 98% of the proposed budget increase, according to the FDA. The budget proposes seven new user fees, assumes the reauthorization of two user fees (prescription drug and medical device) that will expire on Oct. 1, and reflects increases in existing user fees, according to the Department of Health and Human Services document.

“These are austere budget times, and the FDA budget request reflects this reality,” said Commissioner of Food and Drugs Margaret Hamburg. “With FDA-regulated products accounting for about a quarter of each dollar that Americans spend, these budget priorities will benefit patients and consumers and strengthen our economy.”

The administration suggested raising revenue to fund implementation of FSMA through new food safety fees in last year's budget, but those fees were rejected by Congress.

United Fresh Produce Association, American Meat Institute and the Association of Food Industries, along with several other food industry groups, requested that the 2013 budget proposal provide funding for federal food safety programs without additional user fees.

“As consumers continue to cope with a period of pro-longed economic turbulence and food makers struggle with record high commodity prices, the creation of new food taxes or regulatory fees would mean higher costs for food makers and lead to higher food prices for consumers,” according to a letter from 31 food industry representatives to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius last month. “As such, we believe imposing new fees on food makers is the wrong option for funding food safety programs.”

The president also proposed in his 2013 budget plan to add $10 million more than last year's appropriation for improved monitoring of food and drugs imported from overseas. This funding for the Transforming Food Safety and Protecting Patients Initiatives provides new resources for FDA to increase the agency's presence in and expertise on China. The FDA said the investment will strengthen the safety of the food and drugs produced in China for export to the United States.



Original story printed in February 15, 2012 Agri-Pulse Newsletter.

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