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Domestic – to – defense spending shift may spare food safety

Thursday, March 16, 2017 22:33
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It does not appear that any of the $54 billion President Trump wants to shift to defense from domestic programs  will be coming from food safety.

The “America First” document released by the White House in fact claims the President’s 2018 Budget “Safeguards the Nation’s supply of meat, poultry, and egg products by fully funding the Food Safety and Inspection Service, which employs more than 8,000 in-plant and other frontline personnel who protect public health in approximately 6,400 federally inspected slaughter and processing establishments nationwide.”

The President is asking for $17.9 billion for the U.S. Department of Agriculture for 2018, a cut of 21 percent or $4.7 billion. It would put the emphasis on food safety, nutrition assistance, and rural community support. The McGovern-Dole International Food for Education would be zeroed out.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would get a $69 billion budget for 2018, but that in turn is a $15.1 billion or 17.9 percent cut from the 2017 “annualized CR” level.

HHS houses the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates the food not covered by FSIS. The budget document is silent on exactly how much is being requested for FDA’s implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act.

The Trump budget calls upon FDA to double —to $2 billion—the medical product user fees charged for its reviews of drugs and medical devices. There is no mention of user fees for food safety.

Earlier this week, about two dozen food companies and associations wrote congressional appropriation leaders to say FDA needs as much as $40 million in 2018 to fully implement the FSMA.

It is not clear if Trump’s budget request has included any amounts for FSMA over those current levels.

Trump makes it clear his goal is to increase defense spending by 10 percent, beef up immigration enforcement,  and wall off the southern border without increasing the debt.   In addition to the domestic-to-defense shift, Trump brings home dollars that were going to all sorts of foreign aide.

As always, a President’s budget priorities are only the beginning play in a long drama mostly carried out by a Congressional process.

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