Palazzo Discusses Budget Priorities with Secretary of Agriculture
Washington, DC – Congressman Steven Palazzo (MS-4) today met with the Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, during the House Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee hearing to review budget priorities for the Department of Agriculture. During the hearing Congressman Palazzo asked Secretary Perdue about the provision in the President’s budget that would reverse the food safety inspection measure that was approved by Congress.
“Twice Congress has legislated the transfer of food safety inspection responsibility from the Food and Drug Administration to the U.S.D.A. Food Safety Inspection Service. Once during a Democratically-controlled Congress, once during a Republican Congress. Yet the budget submitted by the Trump Administration yesterday proposes to reverse course, change the law, and move back to an FDA inspection program which really provided little if any food safety inspection at all.
“In fact, this very same budget proposal highlights the work FSIS has done over the past year ensuring product quality—specifically highlighting rejection, recalls and removal of product totaling well over a half million pounds of catfish that otherwise would have found its way onto the tables of American families throughout the U.S.
“So, my obvious question here Mr. Secretary is why is this Administration reversing the course?”
Secretary Perdue responded to the question stating, “this budget may have been constructed prior to Secretary Tom Price and the FDA administrator and I having conversations about how we do bright line delineation over food inspection.”
Perdue further expounded adding,“Globally I think we’ve got some real opportunities here to delineate in a bright line way who does what best. And I think Secretary Price and I who served in the Georgia State Senate together have begun some top level conversations about that – of how we approach that decision which hopefully will be reflected later in a budget over how do we determine who does what and who does what best. I appreciate your comments about the catfish inspection program.”
The inspection program was first created by Congress in the 2008 farm law and is championed by lawmakers from catfish-producing states, including Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss. The law took safety oversight of catfish and other ray-finned fish away from the Food and Drug Administration and gave that authority to the Agriculture Department, which does more frequent inspections. USDA delayed putting the program in place for several years, but inspections started in March 2016.