Perdue, Gottlieb sign Food Safety Modernization Act memorandum | TheFencePost.com

Perdue, Gottlieb sign Food Safety Modernization Act memorandum

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb today signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate on implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act.

The ceremony took place in a White House auditorium as part of a White House Rural Prosperity Conference to which state agriculture commissioners and other state and local officials were invited. The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture is meeting in Washington this week.

"Over the last several months, the secretary and I have worked closely and identified several areas where we can strengthen our collaboration to make our processes more efficient, predictable, and potentially lower cost to industry; while also strengthening our efforts to ensure food safety," Gottlieb said.

"This agreement not only formalizes this ongoing coordination, but presents a great opportunity to expand those efforts through better integration and increased clarity to the agriculture and food processing sectors. Our coordination with these sectors plays an integral role in helping to keep our nation's food supply safe and secure."

In a news release, USDA said the agreement "aims to increase clarity, efficiency and potentially reduce the number of establishments subject to the dual regulatory requirements of the USDA and the FDA."

"For example, when a facility, such as a canned soup facility, produces both chicken noodle soup and tomato soup, it is currently subject to regulation by both agencies. The agreement tasks both government organizations with identifying ways to streamline regulation and reduce inspection inefficiencies, while steadfastly upholding safety standards for dual-jurisdiction facilities. This can reduce costs on industry and free government resources to better target efforts to areas of risk."

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The agreement also commits the USDA and the FDA to identify ways the agencies can better align and enhance their efforts to develop regulatory approaches to biotechnology, as each agency works to fulfill commitments outlined in the September 2016 National Strategy for Modernizing the Regulatory System for Biotechnology Products and the more recent Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity Report, USDA said.

During the event, Perdue assured the state and local officials that the Trump administration wants to work with state, local and tribal officials. Several tribal leaders urged the administration to work more closely with tribal governments.

Perdue noted that President Donald Trump had signed an executive order to establish the task force and said that when the president "signs an executive order it is not an executive suggestion."

Perdue repeated previous statements that access to high-speed Internet service is vital to rural economic development. He also said that the three issues he hears about in his travels around the country are trade, labor and regulation.

A Tennessee mayor told Perdue that his area has the third highest opioid overdose rate in the country. The mayor said that "blockers" have been developed to keep people from getting high, but that people need housing to be isolated for 18 months of recovery. Perdue suggested that the mayor speak to Anne Hazlett, his assistant for rural development, about the housing possibilities.

After the early morning session to which reporters were admitted, the rural leaders were scheduled to hear from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and engage in a discussion of trade and infrastructure with Ray Starling, the president's special assistant for agriculture, and D.J. Gribbin, the special assistant for infrastructure. Also scheduled was a discussion on FDA leadership with FDA Deputy Commissioner Anna Abram and a discussion on rural connectivity with White House officials Chris Liddell and Grace Koh.