A long-running food safety program that began shutting down due to lack of government funding has been granted a last-minute financial stay of execution, receiving emergency temporary funding from a consortium of nonprofit organizations and individual taxpayers who believe the program is too important to public health to allow it to fail.
The Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank (FARAD) received a total of $17,000 in combined donations from 12 groups and several private citizens within the animal health and food safety sectors - a stop-gap grant intended to keep the program from completely closing while appeals for appropriations are made before the 111th Congress and the Obama administration. Late last year, FARAD began cutting staff and its expenses to maintain a skeleton operation while it searched for the funding necessary for its survival.
Used by veterinarians, livestock producers and state and federal regulatory and extension specialists to ensure that drug, environmental and pesticide contaminants do not end up in meat, milk and eggs, FARAD began shutting down late last year when Congress failed to complete many of the fiscal year 2009 appropriations bills. Within the next week or so, Congress is expected to pass an omnibus appropriations bill to fund the government for the rest of the year. This bill should include funding for FARAD, which began operating in 1982.
Congress authorized long-term funding of $2.5 million annually for FARAD in last year's Farm Bill. The USDA, however, has not included the monies for the program in its annual budget.
The American Sheep Industry Association was one of the contributors to temporarily fund FARAD.
Reprinted in part from American Veterinary Medical Association