With federal food safety programs spread across the government, it’s always difficult to follow when things are coming together at the last minute.
But this year was even more confusing than most because: First there was the Fiscal Year 21 Omnibus Appropriations Package that Congress passed and the president signed this past week; then came the coronavirus relief bill, which at one point was supposed to include defense-related spending; then those were split into two bills.
In the end, the $900 billion coronavirus bill passed the House on a 359-53 vote; and the government funding package including defense went through the House on a 327-85 favorable vote. It was approved by the Senate on a voice vote.
The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) reports that $28 million in block grant funding was provided for the health and welfare of farmers.
In addition, NASDA reports Congress appropriating funds for improvements to meat and poultry processing facilities, particularly those facilities currently in a Cooperative Interstate Shipment Program.
“The $60 million this bill provides to increase meat processing capacity will help ensure supply chain continuity for the animal agriculture industry,” NASDA’s Barb Glenn said.
The $60 million for small meat and poultry processors to make improvements to expand their markets started out as the RAMP-UP Act, introduced by House Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson, D-MN.
“Inclusion of Chairman Peterson’s bill in the relief package represents significant initial vestment toward expanding capacity at small meat and poultry processing plants and minimizing potential food supply disruptions,” said Brian Ronholm. director of food policy for Consumer Reports. “This assistance will help these small establishments attain federal inspection status and expand their markets without comporting food safety standards.”
After 30 years in Congress, Peterson was defeated in November In Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District by Republican Michelle Fischbach.
NASDA also reported these inclusions in the fiscal year 2021 omnibus bill:
- $10 million for the USDA-National Institute of Food and Agriculture Food Safety Outreach Program
- $10 million for the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network
- $635 million for the Agriculture Quarantine Inspection program to keep pests and diseases from entering the U.S.
- $24 million for the State and Tribal Assistance Grants categorized for pesticides enforcement.
Food safety inclusions in the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) appropriations included:
- $1 million for expanded detection and removal of contaminated food from the marketplace.
- $5 million to regulate cannabis and cannabis derivatives in FDA-regulated products including dietary supplements and when used in unapproved food and feed alternatives.
- $6 million for Shrimp inspection Pilot Program.
- $1.25 million for Allergen Labeling.
- $1 millón for Cosmetics
- $1 million for the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System.
All totaled, FDA is looking at $42.25 million in new funding with $15.25 million apportioned for food safety.
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