AFFI Asks US Congress to Reject New Food Taxes

The McLean, Virginia-headquartered American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) and a coalition of nearly 60 food groups have urged the Senate and House of Representatives to develop a fiscal year (FY) 2016 budget that funds US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) food safety programs without saddling consumers and food makers with burdensome new taxes or fees.

“Food safety is the highest priority for America’s food and beverage makers,” said AFFI President and CEO Kraig R. Naasz. “We stand ready to work with the administration and Congress to ensure sufficient federal resources are allocated to FDA’s critical food safety activities without increasing costs for consumers and food makers.”

Prior to the March 4 House Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee hearing with FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, AFFI and its allies wrote Representatives Hal Rogers (Republican of Kentucky) and Nita Lowey (Democrat of New York) stressing that Congress has previously rejected efforts to impose new regulatory fees on food and beverage makers and distributors to fund FDA’s food safety programs.

The AFFI-led coalition, cautioning that imposing any new food taxes will yield crippling economic effects, stated in a joint letter: “As consumers continue to cope with a period of prolonged economic recovery and food makers and retailers struggle with fluctuating commodity prices, the creation of new food taxes or regulatory fees would mean higher costs for food makers and lead to higher retail food prices for consumers.”

Specifically, the President’s budget proposal calls on the FDA to collect $60 million in new food facility registration and inspection fees from food producers and distributors in the next fiscal year, and another $103 million through a new import inspection fee.

Among the trade associations and food groups joining the AFFI as signatories to the letter were the American Fruit and Vegetable Processors and Growers Coalition, the Food Marketing Institute, Frozen Potato Products Institute, Global Cold Chain Alliance, International Association of Refrigerated Warehouses, National Fisheries Institute, National Frozen Pizza Institute, National Grocers Association and National Pasta Association.

A copy of the food and beverage community’s letter is available for review here.