Funding for food safety implementation drastically cut by US House

June 21, 2011

According to the Washington Post, House Republicans cut millions of dollars June 16 from the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) budget, limiting the amount to implement landmark food safety laws approved by the last Congress.

Saying the cuts were needed to lower the national deficit, the House also reduced funding to the Agriculture Department’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), which oversees meat, poultry, and some egg products. In addition, $832 million was cut from an emergency feeding program for poor mothers, infants, and children.

No Democrats voted in favor of the agriculture appropriations bill, which passed by a vote of 217 to 203. Nineteen Republicans joined the Democrats in opposition.

The White House opposed many of the cuts, saying they would force the USDA to furlough inspectors at meat and poultry processing plants and leave the FDA unable to meet the requirements of a food safety law passed in December. To carry out the new law, President Obama is seeking $955 million the FDA’s food safety program in the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. Republican leaders in the House pared back that to $750 million, which is $87 million less than the agency currently is receiving for food safety. They also shaved $35 million from the FSIS.

Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), Chairman of the House subcommittee that wrote the agriculture appropriations bill, said the cuts to food safety were justified because the nation’s food supply was “99.99% safe.”

Food safety advocates said they are counting on the Senate to restore the funding for the FDA that the House cut.

Washington Post article