Nearly 60 food production groups called on Congress to reject millions in proposed registration and inspection fees included in President Obama's latest budget.
In a letter to House and Senate appropriations committee leadership, the groups instead sought additional funding for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a move they said would reflect food safety's status as "a top national priority."
The White House budget for fiscal year 2016 would establish fees amounting to an estimated $60 million for registration and inspection of food facilities, with another $103 million collected through a new fee on inspections of imported food products.
Food producers argued those measures would "mean higher costs for food makers and lead to higher retail food prices for consumers." The letter also noted Congress rejected similar proposals in the previous four budgets, and that lawmakers declined to implement those fees to fund the Food Safety Modernization Act when that law originally passed in 2011.
"Maintaining the safety of the foods we produce and sell is the highest priority of the food makers and retailers we represent and should be considered a top national priority," the letter read. "Federal food safety programs and inspections conducted by FDA benefit all American consumers and should be funded through appropriated funds."