F.D.A. seeks 28% larger food safety budget

by Jay Sjerven
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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Feb. 2 proposed a budget of $1,166,636,000 for its food safety programs for fiscal 2016. The budget would include $987,328,000 appropriated by Congress and $179,308,000 in user fees. The proposed budget for the agency’s food programs was $252,852,000, or 28% larger, than the agency’s budget for fiscal 2015 at $913,784,000.

The requested budget authority, the federal funding to be appropriated by Congress, would be up $83,925,000, or 9%, from the fiscal year 2015 enacted budget authority of $903,403,000 and would be more than $100 million larger than the actual 2014 appropriation at $882,814,000.

The increased budget authority requested for fiscal year 2016 would include $109.5 million earmarked for more effective implementation of the F.D.A. Food Safety Modernization Act (F.S.M.A). This increased funding would be apportioned as follows: $25 million for inspection modernization and training; $32 million for developing a more integrated food safety system involving improving working relations, collaboration and communications with state and local food safety authorities; $11.5 million for education and technical assistance for industry; $4 million for technical staffing and guidance development at the F.D.A.; $25.5 million in connection with the implementation of the Foreign Supplier Verification Program under the F.S.M.A.; $4.5 million for risk analysis and evaluation resources, and $7 million for related infrastructure costs.

The F.D.A.’s proposed budget also took into consideration an expected $179,308,000 in user fees, which, if collected, would compare with an expected $10,381,000 in users fees in fiscal 2015.

The F.D.A. presents its proposed food programs budget in two parts, one reflecting needs of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (C.S.F.A.N.) and the other reflecting needs for the agency’s in-the-field activities. The F.D.A. requested a fiscal 2016 budget for C.S.F.A.N at $355,007,000, up $74,527,000, or 27%, from $280,480,000 in fiscal 2015. The F.D.A. requested $303,994,000 in appropriated funding, up $24,000,000, or 9%, from the fiscal 2015 enacted budget authority of $279,994,000. Additionally, the F.D.A. indicated it wanted authority to collect $51,013,000 in users fees to support the center in fiscal 2016 compared with $486,000 in fiscal 2015.

The F.D.A.’s budget for its fiscal 2016 field activities was $811,629,000, up $178,325,000, or 28%, from $633,304,000 in fiscal 2015. The F.D.A. requested $683,334,000 in budget authority for field operations, up $59,925,000, or 10%, from an enacted budget authority of $623,409,000 in fiscal 2015. The F.D.A. indicated it wanted to collect $128,295,000 in user fees in fiscal 2016 in support of its field activities compared with $9,895,000 in fiscal 2015.

The F.D.A. long has sought but rarely has actually collected user fees to help cover the cost of its food safety and inspection activities. This is beginning to change as the agency seeks to implement congressionally mandated programs associated with the F.S.MA. The food industry, including strong supporters of the F.D.A. and the F.S.M.A., has sought higher congressional appropriations for food safety and inspection and urged less reliance of user fees.

The F.D.A. indicated under its current authority it will collect $1.2 million in user fees ($100,000 for the center and $1.1 million for the field) in fiscal 2016 in connection with its third-party auditor program that will be launched in fiscal 2016.

The F.D.A. also proposed $167.8 million in new user fees.

The F.D.A. proposed $94,300,000 in user fees to support its import inspection programs ($9.8 million for use in the center and $84.5 million for use in the field). It proposed to collect $50.7 million in user fees in connection with its food facility registration and inspection program ($23.3 million for use in the center and $27.4 million to support field activities). The F.D.A. sought $4.6 million in user fees to support its food contact substances notification activities and $800,000 in user fees for inspection of food shipments via international express courier facilities.

The F.D.A.’s inspection activities related to cosmetics fall under its food programs. The F.D.A. sought $17.4 million in user fees to support its mandatory cosmetic registration program.

The Alliance for a Stronger F.D.A. said it welcomed President Obama’s fiscal year 2016 budget request for the F.D.A.

“While it falls short of the money needed to meet F.D.A.’s new and expanding responsibilities, the president’s request would double the increase in base funding over the prior four years,” the alliance noted.

“The monies for food safety are particularly timely given the F.D.A.’s multi-year responsibility for implementing the F.S.M.A.,” said Chris Waldrop, an alliance board member and director of the Food Safety Institute of the Consumer Federation of America. “F.S.M.A. represents a fundamental change in philosophy and programming, and the agency needs sufficient resources to effectively implement the law.”
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