The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USDA) is requesting a total budget of $5.1 billion to protect and promote the public health as part of the President’s fiscal year (FY) 2017 budget – an eight percent increase over the enacted budget for FY 2016. The overall request includes a net increase of $14.6 million in budget authority and $268.7 million in user fees for initiatives tied to several key areas, including the implementation of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FMSA) and efforts to improve medical product safety and quality. The agency is also seeking $75 million in new mandatory funding to support the National Cancer Moonshot initiative being led by the vice president.
The FDA has finalized major rules that implement the core of FSMA. The FY 2017 budget builds on this work by supporting federal and state efforts to establish enforceable safety standards for produce farms. Funding also will enable the FDA to continue progress to hold importers accountable for verifying that imported food meets U.S. safety standards, as well as conduct food safety audits of foreign food facilities.
The budget also includes investing in the FDA’s Infrastructure (+$3 million in building and facilities funding; +$600,000 in other infrastructure-related funding): The FDA’s responsibilities continue to escalate as the agency works to fulfill the mandates of groundbreaking legislation passed in recent years. This expansion of authorities urgently requires that the FDA’s critical infrastructure at its owned locations is properly functioning to enable the agency to carry out its mission and respond to food safety and medical product emergencies.
Editors Insight: The $25.3 million increase is far less than the increase for 2016 when the added money totaled $104.5 million, according to Food Safety News. It’s not enough for 2017, according to the bipartisan National Association of State Departments of Agriculture.
What remains to be seen is how the government will enforce the Food Safety Modernization Act, the most sweeping food safety reform in the nation’s history. The law gives the FDA unprecedented enforcement power, which many food industry organizations support, but many industry players say the FDA lacks enough qualified inspectors to enforce the regulations. Without enforcement, the benefits of the law that both government and industry toiled to produce will have little impact on food safety. 2-10-16 By Elliot Maras