Senate Appropriations Committee to vote for increased food-safety funding

The Senate Appropriations Committee will vote Wednesday on legislation to increase funding for food safety by $40 million to $45 million next fiscal year, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) told The Hill.

The move sets up a clash with House Republicans who last May voted to slash the $837 million FY 2011 budget for food safety by $87 million for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. President Obama has asked for $955 million for FY 2012.

Harkin is the No. 2 Democrat on the Appropriations subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies. He has long been a champion of increased scrutiny for the nations food supply. He said bipartisan support for food-safety legislation enacted earlier this year and a recent spate of foodborne illnesses leave him confident that the bill will pass the Senate.

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Im hopeful, he said. We need to ramp it up.

The committee vote comes as public-health advocates and some industry groups have been pressing for increased food-safety funding. The Alliance for a Stronger FDA took out ads in Capitol Hill newspapers Tuesday and Wednesday making that case.

With responsibility for products that [compose] more than 20 percent of U.S. consumer spending, the FDA oversees industries that are key to our nations growth and prosperity, the ad reads. A science-based and predictable FDA helps many industries — including food, drug, medical device, and cosmetics — to innovate and create high-paying American jobs while improving our balance of trade.