WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) joined a multitude of food manufacturer and agricultural groups in recently urging the Obama administration to request adequate fiscal year 2017 funding levels to finance food safety activities instead of continuing to propose burdensome fees that have been rejected by the U.S. Congress repeatedly.

In a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell and Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan, NGFA and 63 other organizations said food safety programs and inspections conducted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should be financed through appropriated funds.

“The creation of new food taxes or regulatory fees would mean higher costs for food makers and lead to higher retail food prices for the most vulnerable consumers," the letter states. “As such, we believe imposing new regulatory taxes on food makers is the wrong option for funding food safety programs.”

FDA is tasked with implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) of 2010, which grants the agency new regulatory powers and requires it to undertake several new rulemakings that affect the operations of the food, animal feed and pet food industries.

The agency’s budget request for every fiscal year since 2012 has recommended raising new revenue from food facility registration and inspection fees. But Congress has rejected these proposals every time. The requested budget for fiscal year 2016 also proposed user fees for activities related to FSMA.

“We believe that while FDA requires additional funds in FY 2017 in order to support food inspection activities and meet the upcoming implementation deadlines of [FSMA], the administration should seek all such funding through the congressional budget and appropriations process rather than asking for authorization of new regulatory taxes that Congress has repeatedly rejected,” the letter stated.

Congress has yet to pass a budget for fiscal year 2016, which begins Oct. 1. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a bill that would provide FDA an additional $45 million in fiscal year 2016 to implement the new FSMA rules, while a House bill would provide a $41.5 million increase. The administration requested an increase of $109 million, much of it through facility registration fees.

The letter is available here.