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House Subcommittee Budget Bill Would Hurt Consumers, Producers
Statement from Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Food & Water Watch
WASHINGTON - May 25 - “Yesterday the House Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies approved a budget bill for FY 2012 that undermines the federal government’s ability to protect consumers from unsafe food. It would keep independent farmers and ranchers under the thumb of corporate meatpackers, and would fail to protect hungry people around the world from Wall Street speculation that puts food out of reach for millions.
“The cuts made by the House subcommittee are not about balancing the budget. They are ideological attacks on the ability of government agencies to do their jobs. Slashing the budgets of the agencies responsible for keeping our food supply clean, safe and accessible is short-sighted and irresponsible. The rest of the House and the Senate should reject the cuts to these vital programs laid out in the subcommittee’s bill to make sure the budget bolsters our ability to provide Americans with a food system that is safe for consumers and fair to producers.”
“The subcommittee bill cuts U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service by 3.6 percent from the current budget. While making this cut, the subcommittee managed to promote two programs that are detrimental to the function of FSIS’ meat and poultry inspection program. The subcommittee maintained funding for a new computer system, the Public Health Inspection System, which is proving to be unworkable in the field. It also expands a controversial pilot program called the HACCP-based Inspection Models Pilot program in poultry plants, This is a blatant attempt to reduce the number of FSIS inspectors by allowing more industry self-inspection.
The Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition budget was cut by 4.5 percent from this year’s budget. This will make it difficult for the agency to meet the new implementation and inspection duties it has under the newly passed FDA Food Safety Modernization Act.”
“The bill passed by the subcommittee would prevent USDA from finalizing much-anticipated livestock marketing rules that would protect farmers from abusive practices by big meatpackers and poultry companies and help ensure there are fair markets for farmers to sell their hogs and cattle. These rules are long overdue — USDA proposed the rule last June to implement provisions of the three year old farm bill to provide necessary guidance to enforce the nearly century-old Packers & Stockyards Act. Now the Republican House is trying to sabotage these rules just like they sidelined mandatory country of origin labeling, which was delayed six years through similar appropriations shenanigans.”
“The bill does not provide necessary funding for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to police the excessive speculation on the commodity markets that is driving up gas and food prices. Without additional funding, the CFTC cannot develop, implement and enforce necessary rules called for by the Dodd-Frank financial reform law to prevent future economic meltdowns to protect consumers, farmers and investors.”