An April 17 letter to Senators Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Roy Blunt of Missouri, signed by 54 food and beverage industry trade associations outlines why user fees should not be used to fund implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Two new user fees were included in President Barack Obama’s budget proposal for fiscal 2014.

Calling user fees “taxes,” the letter said that if additional funds are needed to fund FSMA implementation and food inspection activities, FDA should request such funding through appropriations rather than seeking user fees.

“Over the past 5 years, FDA has been one of the few federal agencies to receive discretionary funding increases through the annual appropriations process,” the letter said. “In fact, Congress provided approximately $12.8 million in the recently passed F.Y. 2013 continuing resolution to support FDA’s implementation of FSMA.”

The fees would be collected from importers and users of FDA’s food contact notification program. The import fee would allow the collection of an estimated $166 million, and exempt small importers.

The letter continues: “As food and beverage companies and consumers continue to cope with a period of prolonged economic turbulence, the creation of a new food tax would burden food makers with higher costs and consumers with higher food prices. We urge Congress to provide F.D.A. with sufficient funds to meet its food safety responsibilities without saddling food makers and consumers with new regulatory taxes.”