Her office yesterday released a letter DeLauro sent to Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Jeffrey Zients about what will happen to the program once fiscal year 2013 begins Oct. 1.
From DeLauro's office:
DeLauro Urges Administration to Continue Important Public Health Research
WASHINGTON, DC—Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) today urged the Obama Administration to continue the research funded by the Microbiological Data Program (MDP). The MDP collects data from the states on the safety of produce, data that is important to improving food safety.
The MDP is currently not funded for the fiscal year beginning October 1, despite praise for the program. DeLauro’s letter to Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Jeffrey Zients urges the Administration to reinstate funding for the following year, saying in part “it is unacceptable for this valuable, cost-effective program – and the only program dedicated to improving our understanding of the bacterial contamination of produce – to be eliminated.”
DeLauro is the former senior Democrat on the Agriculture Department and Food and Drug Administration’s funding committee and a longtime champion for food safety. Most recently, she introduced an amendment to this year’s bill funding those departments that would have increased funding for FDA food safety work and restored funding for the MDP.
The letter to Director Zients is as follows:
July 2, 2012
Office of Management and Budget
725 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20503
Dear Mr. Zients:
I write today to urge you to ensure that the data collected by the Microbiological Data Program continues in the coming fiscal years. Specifically, as the fiscal year 2014 budget request is developed, it is critical that the data currently collected by the Microbiological Data Program (MDP) at the Agricultural Marketing Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture continue.
Established to address consumer concerns about the safety of produce, the program was implemented in 2001 and operates via agreements with cooperating states. Those states perform a “statistically-based nationwide sampling and testing program” that allows for the “evaluation of trends in microbial contamination of those commodities throughout the years.” Recognizing the value of the data collected by the program, the Administration requested increased funding for the MDP in both Fiscal Year 2011 and Fiscal Year 2012. The Fiscal Year 2013 budget notes that “because MDP baseline data reflects changes in cultivation; harvesting practices; post-harvest handling; and packaging of fresh produce…it can be used to help fine-tune Good Agricultural Practices.”