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The American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) and a coalition of more than 30 food groups have sent a letter to senior Obama administration leaders to develop a fiscal year 2013 budget request that fully funds U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) food safety programs without proposing new taxes or fees for consumers or foodmakers.
“Food safety is the highest priority for America’s foodmakers, and we believe that sufficient federal resources must be provided to fund the FDA’s critical food safety activities,” noted Kraig R. Naasz, president and CEO of McLean, Va.-based AFFI. “We stand ready to work with the administration and Congress to develop a funding plan that ensures America’s food supply remains the safest in the world without increasing costs for consumers and foodmakers.”
In the Jan. 30 letter to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Jeffrey Zients, the coalition emphasized that Congress had earlier rejected imposing new regulatory fees and food taxes, including a request included in the administration’s fiscal 2012 budget proposal.
The AFFI-led coalition warned that any new food taxes would further cripple an economy that’s only beginning to recover from a devastating recession. “As consumers continue to cope with a period of prolonged economic turbulence and foodmakers struggle with record high commodity prices, the creation of new food taxes or regulatory fees would mean higher costs for foodmakers and lead to higher food prices for consumers,” the letter cautioned.
The groups praised recent FDA budget increases, noting that the agency’s budget has grown from $1.6 billion in fiscal 2007 to $2.5 billion in fiscal 2012. “We particularly appreciate the funding increase received by the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, whose important work has greatly benefited from a $350 million budget increase over the past four years,” the coalition said.
Joining the American Frozen Food Institute on the letter were such organizations as the American Bakers Association, American Fruit and Vegetables Processors and Growers Coalition, American Meat Institute, Association of Food Industries, International Bottled Water Association, Juice Products Association, National Association of Margarine Manufacturers, National Chicken Council, National Confectioners Association, National Fisheries Institute, National Meat Association, National Pasta Association, National Turkey Federation, Pet Food Institute, Produce Marketing Association, Refrigerated Foods Association, Shelf-Stable Food, Processors Association, Snack Food Association, United Egg Producers and the United Fresh Produce Association.