2012 Appropriations Bills & Food Safety Fight May Be Brewing

Agriculture Appropriations BillOn Wednesday of this week the U.S. House is scheduled to take up H.J. Resolution 79, making continuing appropriations for seven weeks into the new (FY 2012) fiscal year.  H.J. Res 79 funds most federal programs through November 18 at the FY 2011 level, minus a 1.4 percent reduction. This level of appropriations was established in the recently enacted debt limitation law (P.L. 112-25) establishing a $1.043 trillion spending cap.

The U.S. Senate must quickly take up the bill as Congress is scheduled to recess the last week of September.  With the new federal fiscal year beginning in 11 days (on Oct 1), none of the 12 appropriations bills have been enacted by Congress.

According to the 112th congressional calendar, 26 legislative days remain until the targeted adjournment on December 8. With only a few legislative days remaining already the House and Senate are headed for heated arguments in the usually congenial agriculture appropriations subcommittee over the new food safety law enacted at the beginning of this year.

Earlier this month the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee adopted their version of an FY 2012 spending bill for the US Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration. The U.S. House adopted their version of the bill on June 16  by a vote of 217-203. The provisions showcase a difference of opinion in implementing the new food safety law.

Specifically, the FY 2012 FDA budget request was $4.36 billion for all programs, of which just over $1.2 billion was allocated for food safety and animal drugs and feed. FDA requested an additional $324 million for the food safety initiative.  Previously, the Congressional Budget Office estimated an additional $1.4 billion would be needed over the next five years to implement the Food Safety Modernization law (FSMA).

The House-adopted Agriculture Appropriations bill does not increase FDA funding for FY 2012.

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Labor, Health and Human Services Subcommittee and the number #2 democrat on the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, secured an increase in funding for implementation of FDA’s new food safety law in the Senate bill by up to $45 million for FY 2012.

The FSMA, with authority under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C) allows FDA to assess and collect user fees, including those for costs associated with certain domestic and foreign facility re-inspections, failure to comply with a recall order, and importer re-inspections.  FDA is now accepting comments through October 17 on what financial, or other burdens the proposed fees will impose on small businesses, how small business should be defined and whether and how FDA should alleviate those burdens. In addition, FDA is seeking comments on whether a reduction of fees or other consideration for small business is appropriate, and if so, what factors FDA should consider for each.  For those interested in providing comments go to: http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=FDA-2011-N-0529-0001.

Impact on Your Business?

The questions are:

  • How will the outcome of the debate on the 2012 Appropriations Bills impact your business and industry?
  • If the FDA gets no additional funding, how does that factor into your industry?
  • What can you do to get your facts in front of policy makers?

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Cansler Consulting is an experienced lobbying firm in budgeting, agricultural, rural healthcare, and energy policies and through our Congressional relationships we can help you influence the policy makers on Capitol Hill. You can contact us at info@canslerconsulting.com or at (202) 220-3150.

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