While much of the sequestration talks have focused on the Department of Defense and military operations, half of the $1.2 trillion price tag over the next decade would be taken from the civilian agencies if a deal is not reached.
Michael Taylor, the Food and Drug Administration’s deputy commissioner for foods, said sequestration would be a huge blow for the agency, which is rebuilding itself after decades of flatline budgets.
“I think sequestration is something that every agency is looking at,” Taylor told Food Safety News during a question and answer session at the agency’s Science Writer’s Symposium. “There’s no question that an absolute reduction [with the levels called for with sequestration] would be a huge blow to our progress on food safety. We’re a very personnel driven agency in terms of our budget.”
He added that the food safety program at FDA is already thin compared to its mission.
“The Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, which has a central role in implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act, has had the same permanent FTE staffing level as it did in 1992, before the explosion of imports, before the overall growth in the complexity and size that we see in the food system, even before FSMA was enacted,” said Taylor. “We need to beef up the staffing at CFSAN and other parts of the program, so anything that forces us to backward — you can just imagine the effect that it would have.”