Fiscal cliff deal avoids budget cuts with food safety implications

A deal cleared by Congress late on Tuesday delays automatic budget cuts to food safety, biosecurity and public health-related agencies like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control.

The bill prevented the so-called fiscal cliff to avoid tax increases for more than 99 percent of Americans. It also extended part of the farm bill for nine months and pushed the deadline for potential sequestration ahead two months. The sequestration would cut the budget of most agencies by 8.2 percent, Food Safety News reports.

If the cuts do go into effect in two months, the FDA would see a $318 million budget reduction with $71 million coming out of the agency's food program. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service would lose $86 million in funding. The service ensures the safety of poultry, meat and processed egg products.

The CDC, which monitors multistate outbreaks and foodborne illnesses, stands to lose $464 million if the cuts go through.

Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) expressed anger on Tuesday that disaster assistance was not included as part of a permanent extension.

"Without consultation with me or the chairman in the House, we now have a partial extension," Stabenow said, according to Food Safety News. "They not only do not extend all the titles, but they do not include critical disaster assistance."

The bill passed through the Senate 89-8 early on Tuesday and was approved by the House 257-167 late on Tuesday, Food Safety News reports.