CFA's Carol Tucker Foreman on FY 2004 USDA Budget: 'Administration Cuts Appropriations for Food Safety'

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 3, 2003
Contact:
Art Jaeger, (202) 387-6121

Consumer Federation of America's Carol Tucker Foreman said today that the budget proposed by the Bush Administration is very likely to result in less funds being available for meat and poultry inspections in the coming year.

"Contrary to Secretary Veneman's speech committing to increased funding for food safety testing and more food safety inspectors, the new Agriculture Department budget reduces the appropriated funds for food safety in fiscal year 2004," Tucker Foreman said.

"The Administration proposes to gain $120 million through a fee for service on all but the first shift of meat and poultry inspections every day," Tucker Foreman said. "Congress has rightly and repeatedly rejected industry fees as a method to fund meat and poultry inspections in the past. Subtracting out what USDA expects to receive from fees for service from industry, total appropriated funds proposed for food safety in fiscal 2004 are actually about $90 million less than in fiscal 2003."

Approximate numbers follow:

FY 2003 appropriated funds
Overtime*
Total
$768 million
$102 million
$870 million
FY 2004 appropriated funds
Overtime*
User Fees/Fee for service
Total
$675 million
$102 million
$122 million
$899 million
FY 2003 appropriated funds
FY 2004 appropriated funds
Difference
$768 million
$675 million
$93 million

* Note: The Food Safety and Inspection Service has charged fees for overtime and holiday inspection for many years.

"President Bush is funding tax cuts or millionaires by cutting food safety," Tucker Foreman said. "Inspection is not a service to meat processors. It is a vital public health function. Meat inspectors are public health officers, just as a policeman on the beat is a public safety officer. Consumers do not want any meat inspector to view the owner of a filthy meat plant as the source of his pay check."

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Carol Tucker Foreman heads the Consumer Federation of America's Food Policy Institute. She was an assistant secretary of agriculture in the Carter Administration, with responsibility for both meat safety and nutrition programs. Consumer Federation of America is an association of approximately 300 pro-consumer groups formed in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through advocacy and education.