The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) has joined 16 other food and agricultural organizations in urging the House to reject additional user fees for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) beyond those already authorized in the comprehensive food/feed safety law enacted on Jan. 4.
When approving the Food Safety Modernization Act, Congress expressly language included in the House-passed version of the bill that would have imposed a $500 annual fee on each U.S. and foreign facility required to register with FDA under the Bioterrorism Act of 2002. The facility registration requirement is the trigger that generally determines whether facilities are covered by the new law’s numerous requirements, including the obligation to conduct an analysis of hazards that could cause products to be adulterated or misbranded, and to develop and implement written controls to significantly minimize or prevent those hazards from occurring.
The law already includes fees requiring FDA to charge for the cost of: 1) conducting reinspections of facilities that fail an original inspection; 2) conducting mandatory recalls, if required; 3) issuing inspection certificates for food products; and 4) implementing a new Voluntary Qualified Importer Program to expedite imports from third-party-certified foreign suppliers.
In a joint letter to the Republican chairman and ranking Democratic member of the House Appropriations Committee and its subcommittee with jurisdiction over FDA’s budget, the NGFA and other groups noted that President Obama’s proposed fiscal year 2012 budget included language asking that Congress work with the administration to impose new “food safety fees” starting in 2013 to help finance implementation of the new law.
The House Appropriations Committee is scheduling action on FDA’s appropriations bill for fiscal 2012 this month. Its Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA and Related Agencies is scheduled to consider the matter on May 24, followed by full committee action on May 31.
“Imposing new fees on food and feed facilities would represent a tax on consumers,” the NGFA and other groups said. “We urge Congress to reaffirm its stated opposition to imposing new user fees…and stand ready to work with Congress and the administration to find a better and less burdensome solution.”
The letter pointed out that FDA’s fiscal 2012 budget requested approximately $100 million in appropriated funding targeted toward specific initiatives aimed at implementing the new food/feed safety law, falling short of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office’s projected $300 million annual cost.
In addition to the NGFA, the following organizations signed the letter to Congress: American Bakers Association, American Frozen Food Institute, American Meat Institute, Frozen Potato Products Institute, Independent Bakers Association, International Bottled Water Association, National Chicken Council, National Confectioners Association, National Fisheries Institute, National Frozen Pizza Institute, National Meat Association, Pet Food Institute, Produce Marketers Association, Snack Food Association, United Egg Producers and United Fresh Produce Association.