• Home
  • Back on the Hill Again, Virtually

Back on the Hill Again, Virtually

May 28, 2024

During the hectic federal budget month of May, we were again talking to Congress, this time virtually.

Republican appropriators from the House of Representative came out with their top line fiscal year (FY) 2025 budgets—$711 billion for nondefense and $886 billion for defense. House Democrats want at least a 1% increase over FY 2024 and came with a request of at least $786 billion for nondefense and $895 billion for defense for FY 2025.

We spoke to the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about the FDA Human Foods Program, seeking to ensure that FDA would be adequately funded to meet its mission. Of particular emphasis was the FDA state outreach program that funds state and local food safety inspections. Congress appropriates $83 million for the program, but FDA, in seeing its value, has been increasing its funding to $117 million, taking resources from other food safety activities.

Due to the restructuring of the Human Foods Program, FDA can no longer subsidize the state outreach effort at $117 million, meaning state programs could see approximately a 30% cut in federal support. We emphasized that these state programs implement much of FDA’s food safety programs. The vast majority of food safety inspections, both retail and manufacturing, are performed by state and local inspectors. State and local inspectors conduct 50% of human food processing inspections, 70% of animal food processing inspections, more than 90% of produce safety inspections under the FDA Produce Safety Program, and 100% of retail food inspections. The majority of enforcement actions occur by state and local agencies, under state and local authority. State and local inspectors perform the majority of food safety inspections.

We highlighted three points with Congress:

  1. Food safety is performed by state, local, tribal, and territorial food safety agencies
  2. The FDA Uniform Food Safety System promotes public health
  3. A strong, qualified environmental health workforce is necessary to meet the public health mandate around food and human food needs

Over the 2-day event, we met with nine offices:

  1. Representative Robert Aderholt (AL-R)
  2. Representative Diana Harshbarger (TN-R)
  3. Representative Dr. John Joyce (PA-R)
  4. Representative Derek Kilmer (WA–D)
  5. Representative John Moolenaar (MI-R)
  6. Representative Mark Pocan (WI-D)
  7. Senator Mike Braun (IN-R)
  8. Senator Deb Fischer (NE-R)
  9. Senator Patty Murray (WA-D)

To date, we have met with 33 congressional offices in addition to the 83 offices that we met with on Hill Day in March. We have also written 34 letters directly to congressional appropriators advocating for funding for the FDA Human Foods Program, the CDC National Center for Environmental Health, and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. We will continue to advocate for FDA and our profession before Congress, congressional appropriators, the Biden Administration, as well as before state and local policymakers.

For more information, contact Government Affairs Director Doug Farquhar.