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Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro

Representing the 3rd District of Connecticut

DeLauro Statement on the Agriculture Appropriations Bill

July 12, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC (July 12, 2017) Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) today released the following statement regarding the House Appropriations Committee passing the FY 2018 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration Appropriations bill.

“The Agricultural Appropriations bill touches the lives of every American family. From the food we eat, to the medications we take, to the medical devices we depend on—the investments we put forth in the bill have the potential to make direct impacts on the lives of every day Americans. As a senior member on the subcommittee responsible for funding the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the food and Drug Administration, I take my responsibility seriously to ensure that these agencies have the necessary resources to do their jobs as regulatory agencies.

“While the domestic nutrition programs in the bill were funded at appropriate levels, I am concerned with the bill’s significant cuts to international food aid programs—specifically, the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education Program. However, my colleagues across the aisle and I worked to help reinstate $16.5 million that was cut from the program and restore the funding back to FY17 levels. This funding will go a long way in addressing food shortages, famine, and educational barriers in developing countries. Often times the meal provided by McGovern Dole programs are the only meal the children will eat that day and the program has fed 22 million kids in 41 countries since 2002.

“Additionally, I was successful in securing report language to address the outrageous practice of lunch shaming—where schools treat students with unpaid school meal fees cruelly and embarrass them in front of their fellow students. Children should never be punished for their parent’s financial situation and communications about outstanding school lunch fees should only occur between the parents and the school. I am glad that the Committee recognized this growing problem and directed the USDA to take action.

“I remain very concerned about Americans consuming Chinese chicken and Brazilian beef, given both countries’ history with food safety. China has repeatedly faced challenges with weak enforcement of food safety laws and regulations—including problems specifically related to poultry products. Now that the U.S. is moving forward with a rule allowing the importation of chicken raised and slaughtered in China, we must be even more vigilant. As a result, I fought for the inclusion of language that prevents the USDA from moving forward with this rule unless the Secretary of Agriculture can assure us that China’s food safety systems are equivalent.

“I also fought to secure report language that directs the USDA to update the Appropriations Committee on all that the agency is doing to ensure that China is completing proper inspections and reporting on animal disease outbreaks in a timely manner, as well as report language that directs the USDA to conduct a full review of Brazil’s food safety equivalency determination for agricultural products. With these changes, I feel that the bill strengthens and better protects American consumers from the dangers of contaminated food.

“While the bill makes a number of improvements, it still contains partisan riders that threaten the progress we have made in addressing the health and safety of American families. Specifically, language on drug compounding would undermine the Drug Quality and Security Act, an already weak provision, and return us to the same circumstances of the 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak that sickened more than 800 people and resulted in the death of 64 others. We cannot afford to lower standards for the compounding industry when the health and safety of American families is at risk.

“The bill also codifies the Trump Administration’s goal to roll back school nutrition standards, thereby threatening the health of our children. And finally, this bill would change the so-called ‘grandfather date’ to exempt many e-cigarettes and other tobacco products now on the market from an important FDA product review requirement. When the health of the American people, and especially our children, is at stake, we must do better.”