Association opposes user fees
The FPAA continues to push for Food Safety Modernization Act funding — but not out of its members’ pockets.
“We keep getting pressure from the FDA for the industry to accept an import user fee,” Jungmeyer said. “We want a safe food supply but that shouldn’t come at extra cost to the industry.”
The funding shortfall for the federal act is around $220 million.
“They’re trying to put that on the backs of imports,” he said. “That would amount to a food tax. If that happens, you will see other countries put similar fees on U.S. goods.
“Now that the government is broke, it’s coming back and saying, ‘OK, business, you can pay more for safety inspections, more customs officers, whatever.’ Use fees seem to be the new trend.”
Imposing the fees would require a vote of Congress. The FDA is trying to build industry support for something like that, Jungmeyer said.
On another policy matter, the Produce Traceability Initiative, FPAA’s concern is less with government than with its members’ trading partners.
“There’s been an incredible buy-in from Mexican growers and their importers to be PTI compliant,” Jungmeyer said. “Everyone’s saying ‘OK, now what?’ Are retailers taking advantage of the information yet? Are they able to do anything with it?
“We really hope it’s not a bunch of wasted money. We hope the retailers are putting in their own. Some really are, but a lot haven’t done anything.”