House Republicans have proposed a $285m cut to FDA funding in fiscal 2012, 11.5 percent less than 2011, although the agency is seeking additional funds to pay for new food safety legislation.
The draft Agriculture Appropriations bill would slash $2.6bn in discretionary spending, including cuts to nutrition, food safety, agricultural research, rural development and conservation programs, and is $5bn less than the President’s budget request for these programs.
House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers said: “As is the goal of all our Appropriations bills this year, this legislation reflects hard decisions to cut lower priority programs, reduce spending in programs that can be scaled back, and target funds where they are needed most so that our nation continues on the path to fiscal recovery.”
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has estimated the cost of implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act, which was signed into law in January, at $1.4bn over five years, but funding for the bill has been an area of particular controversy. Some, including Agriculture Subcommittee chairman Jack Kingston (R-GA) have questioned whether the FDA actually needs more funding.
“We have taken spending to below pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels while ensuring USDA, FDA, CFTC and other agencies are provided the necessary resources to fulfill their duties,” he said. “Our members have worked to root out waste and duplication and, where they have strayed from their core mission, we rein in agencies so they may better focus on the responsibilities for which they are intended.”
The FDA has said that it needs extra funding primarily to pay for greater authorities granted to the agency by the new food safety legislation, including the ability to order product recalls, and more frequent inspections of food facilities.
Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) criticized the budget proposal, saying: “It rolls back years of progress, especially on food safety. During my time as Chair of this subcommittee, we worked hard to provide the resources FDA needed to better protect Americans from unsafe food, drugs, and devices by investing in the FDA. But this proposal attempts to undo all of these overdue and much-needed improvements, cutting the agency by more than 20 percent below what the President has requested.”
Apart from cutting funding to the FDA, the GOP budget proposal would also cut $35m from the Food Safety Inspection Service’s budget, $354 million from agriculture research, $338 million from rural development and $486 million from international assistance.
It would also cut $832m, or 12 percent, from the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program.