Feb 5, 2002 (CIDRAP News) The Bush administration wants to provide the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) with an extra $146 million to protect the nation's food supply in fiscal 2003.
The funds would be used for such things as monitoring animal health, hiring more inspectors for ports of entry, strengthening the Food Safety and Inspection Service's (FSIS's) information technology system, and increasing research on animal and plant diseases and on foodborne illness in humans, according to USDA press releases.
"This budget builds on our efforts to protect agriculture and the food supply from intentional and unintentional risks," said Secretary of Agriculture Anne M. Veneman.
Proposed budget items that deal with protection of the food supply include the following:
- A $48 million increase in spending for efforts to quickly identify and respond to potential animal and plant pests and diseases
- An extra $34 million for research to help protect the nation's food system from animal and plant diseases and pests and to "reduce the incidence of foodborne illness in humans due to pathogens and other threats to the food supply."
- A $28 million increase in funds for the FSIS, including $14.5 million for information technology to improve risk management systems. The money would also be used to maintain the FSIS force of about 7,600 meat, poultry, and egg product inspectors. Total proposed spending for the FSIS is $905 million.
- A $19 million boost to enable the Agricultural Quarantine Service (AQI) to add more inspectors, canine teams, and high-definition x-ray machines at high-risk ports of entry. This would bring staffing at ports of entry to 3,974, a 55% increase in 3 years.
- An extra $12 million for programs to expand diagnostic, response, management, and other technical services in the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
- $5 million to strengthen APHIS's ability to monitor disease outbreaks abroad that could spread to the United States
USDA noted that the Defense Appropriations Act signed by President Bush in January included an additional $328 million in USDA 2002 funding for "homeland security" in 2002. This includes $105 million for APHIS pest and disease exclusion, detection, and monitoring; $80 million for improving USDA facilities and security; and $50 million for an animal bio-containment facility at the National Animal Disease Laboratory, among other items.
The total proposed USDA budget for fiscal 2003 is $74.4 billion. Fiscal 2002 spending is expected to reach $76.6 billion because of problems related to the recession, homeland security, and uncontrollable events such as forest fires, the USDA said.
USDA press release, "President's budget to provide $146 million increase in funding to protect agriculture and the nation's food supply"
USDA release, "Agriculture budget proposes increases in key areas"