User fees

The proposed 2005 federal budget submitted to Congress by the Bush administration contains user fees for food processing facilities and for meat and poultry inspection.

Such fees have been included in budgets of past administrations, but Congress has always rejected them, agreeing with the food industry that food safety programs are a legitimate function of government and should be funded by taxpayer dollars.

The food industry vowed to work with Congress to see that these user fees meet a similar fate. Budget shortfalls and the upcoming presidential election are likely to play a role in the debate.

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