Quantcast

Obama's Budget Weakens Food and Water Protections

Food

President Obama’s proposed 2016 budget contains several provisions that would weaken long-standing public health programs that protect consumers from unsafe food, while also undermining community water systems. It is yet another example of this administration’s misplaced priorities, protecting corporate interests at the expense of the American public.

The President’s proposal to consolidate the USDA and Food and Drug Administration’s food safety authority within the Department of Health and Human Services is a step backward.

The proposed budget for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) would cut $4.9 million from the 2015 funding level, including cuts for USDA inspection personnel in poultry plants as a result of the department’s New Poultry Inspection System. This new program, which Food & Water Watch has challenged in federal court, turns over key food safety inspection functions to poultry companies with limited oversight by FSIS inspectors and has still not been implemented.

The President’s proposal to consolidate the USDA and Food and Drug Administration’s food safety authority within the Department of Health and Human Services is also a step backward. President Nixon first proposed this idea in the 1970’s and Congress wisely rejected it then; we urge this Congress to do the same. FDA and FSIS have different inspection cultures, and trying to merge the two could weaken FSIS inspection standards that offer consumers protections they do not get in any other sector of the food supply.

While the President has proposed nearly $110 million in additional appropriations to implement the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, the proposed budget for FDA once again proposes significant user fees, including a facility registration fee, as a way to fund implementation of the new law. The creation of $163 million of new user fees to fund food safety activities is unacceptable and Congress should reject these as it has done in previous budgets.

President Obama has also chosen to facilitate the corporate takeover of community water systems with two key proposals. The National Infrastructure Bank would facilitate privatization through public-private partnerships. The President has allocated $7.703 billion to the Bank over the next decade. Likewise, his Build America Investment Initiative would promote public-private partnerships in water and other infrastructure by offering new tax breaks on bonds to privatized projects. Both projects will pave the way for Wall Street and foreign water corporations to take over our essential water systems.

The State Revolving Funds (SRFs) once again received the raw end of budgetary process, cut by $54 million from last year’s estimated budget. Since FY2014, the SRFs have lost $707 million, a 23 percent reduction. The new budget also cuts $4 million in funding to USDA’s rural water program, and $17 million to the EPA’s Water Quality and Research Support Grants.

On the bright side, the budget allocates $258 million over the next decade to creating the America Fast Forward Bond program, a new iteration of the highly successful Build America Bonds program, that will provide state and local governments with a low-cost bond option to finance necessary infrastructure projects and create good jobs.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Brazilian Buyout of Chiquita Brands is Completely Bananas

USDA Green-Lights Yet Another Monsanto GMO crop

World’s Largest ‘Vegetable Factory’ Revolutionizes Indoor Farming

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Luis Alfonso de Alba Gongora, the UN secretary-general's special envoy for the climate summit speaks at The World Economic Forum holds the Sustainable Development Impact Summit 2018 in New York on Sept. 24, 2018. Ben Hider / World Economic Forum

By Howard LaFranchi

When United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres decided to hold a high-level climate summit in conjunction with this year's General Assembly kicking off next week, he was well aware of the paradox of his initiative.

Read More Show Less
Acting U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan meets with Guatemalan farmers on May 29 in Santa Rosa, Guatemala. John Moore / Getty Images

The Trump administration ignored its own evidence on how climate change is impacting migration and food security when setting new policies for cutting aid to Central America, NBC reports.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Mike Pence brought the first motorcade to Mackinac Island on Saturday. Cars have been banned on the island since 1898. 13 ON YOUR SIDE / YouTube screenshot

Vice President Mike Pence sparked outrage on social media Saturday when he traveled in the first-ever motorcade to drive down the streets of Michigan's car-free Mackinac Island, HuffPost reported.

Read More Show Less
Inhaling from an electronic cigarette. 6okean / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Shawn Radcliffe

  • As illnesses and deaths linked to vaping continue to rise, health officials urge people to stop using e-cigarettes.
  • Officials report 8 deaths have been linked to lung illnesses related to vaping.
  • Vitamin E acetate is one compound officials are investigating as a potential cause for the outbreak.
The number of vaping-related illnesses has grown to 530 cases in 38 states and 1 U.S. territory, federal health officials reported.
Read More Show Less
Activist Greta Thunberg leads the Youth Climate Strike on Sept. 20, 2019 in New York City. Roy Rochlin / WireImage / Getty Images

By Julia Conley

As organizers behind Friday's Global Climate Strike reported that four million children and adults attended marches and rallies all over the world — making it the biggest climate protest ever — they assured leaders who have been reticent to take bold climate action that the campaigners' work is far from over.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

Summer has officially come to an end. Luckily, EcoWatch is here to keep its memory alive by sharing the winners of our "Best of Summer" photo contest.

Read More Show Less
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks at a news conference at UN headquarters on Sept. 18. Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Today is the United Nations Climate Action Summit, a gathering called by UN Secretary General António Guterres to encourage climate action ahead of 2020, the year when countries are due to up their pledges under the Paris agreement.

Read More Show Less
A vegan diet can improve your health, but experts say it's important to keep track of nutrients and protein. Getty Images

By Dan Gray

  • Research shows that 16 weeks of a vegan diet can boost the gut microbiome, helping with weight loss and overall health.
  • A healthy microbiome is a diverse microbiome. A plant-based diet is the best way to achieve this.
  • It isn't necessary to opt for a strictly vegan diet, but it's beneficial to limit meat intake.

New research shows that following a vegan diet for about 4 months can boost your gut microbiome. In turn, that can lead to improvements in body weight and blood sugar management.

Read More Show Less