The request for support to fund FSMA training and developments at the state level was part of a letter sent by the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) to members of Congress last week.
There are two parts to the job that Congress does, said Bob Ehart, senior policy and science advisor with NASDA. One is to authorize programs, like they did in passing the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), and the other is to award funding.
“[State] legislatures aren’t particularly interested in taking on federal laws without funding,” he told FeedNavigator. “It has nothing to do with the law, if it is an unfunded mandate, the states still aren’t likely to take on that responsibility.”
The feed, or animal food, safety law has the ability to “reset the national clock” on feed safety work and make regulations at the state level more consistent, he said. But, without federal funding, the efforts may not see support.
“What the states have been telling FDA pretty clearly is that if there is inadequate funding that they will not do it,” he said. “When it makes these kinds of changes, it costs the government money to be able to implement them.”
With the implementation of FSMA, the emphasis on food and feed safety moves from a reactionary process to a preventative one, Ehart said. The legislation was made into law in 2011 and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has since promulgated seven rules for implementation, including those governing preventive control for animal food.
“It is going to take longer to do inspections, verify sources of ingredients, product testing, environmental testing and that will add to the inspection of a feed facility and what we’re faced with,” he said. States will have to determine how to work with the FDA in several areas including reviewing medicated feed and testing for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), he added.
“And while the law is changed, and the rules are written, they aren’t in place (yet),” he said. “The compliance dates aren’t [all] in place yet and the implementation is still to come.”
The association is working to build a program document to cover the things that need to be included in work at the state level, said Ehart. That work on the preventive controls would be covered with the $20m request.
FSMA work is a priority for NASDA given the relationship between agriculture and public health, he said. However it will take a good deal of work and educational outreach to establish best practices and share them with agri-business.
“We’ve tried to be more direct about what it’s going to cost if it’s going to be done, and if it isn’t going to be done at that level it probably isn’t something a state should support,” he said.
However, there are concerns about receiving the funding needed to implement the safety program, he said. “It’s going to take a lot of work to make sure they get funded,” he added.
“With the complications of what we have heard early on from the Trump administration, this will probably be a difficult time frame to get Congress to fund things,” said Ehart. “But this is an important bill that was passed and Congress knows that it will need to be funded.”
The association also asked for $80m to support other aspects of FSMA development including work with produce safety and preventive controls for human food.
In addition to asking for fiscal support for FSMA efforts, the association outlined several other funding priorities.
The group said it supports the designation of at least $196.7m for program areas covered by the Center for Veterinary Medicine. That organization’s coverage includes the safety of animal feed, drugs and products derived from biotechnology.
NASDA also sought continued funding for the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System as the program is designed to detect trends in antibiotic resistance, the association said.
In the department of agriculture, NASDA asked for $1.3bn in funding for the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) along with fiscal support for the office of pest management policy, the National Agricultural Law Center and for the continuation of a block grant for specialty crops.
Additionally, NASDA asked for at least $176.6m in funding for the National Agricultural Statistic Service, funding support for discretionary programs at the National Institute for Food and Agriculture; protection of mandatory funding for programs through the Foreign Agricultural Service; and at least $950m in funding for discretionary programs for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).