ASSEMBLY STANDING COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE
ASSEMBLY STANDING COMMITTEE ON CONSUMER AFFAIRS AND PROTECTION
NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING
Hamilton Hearing Room B
Legislative Office Building, 2nd Floor
Maintaining the safety of the food supply is vital to protecting the health and well-being of New York consumers. Recent incidents involving potentially contaminated food, including a major nationwide recall of thousands of food products containing processed peanuts due to potential Salmonella contamination, the discovery of prepackaged cookie dough contaminated with E. coli bacterium, and several recent recalls of ground beef products that were also contaminated with E. coli bacterium, have shaken the public's confidence in our Nation's food safety system. As a result of these incidents, a widespread review of food safety policy is currently underway at the federal and state level.
This hearing will review the implementation of food safety consumer protections by state agencies under the jurisdiction of the Assembly Standing Committees on Agriculture and Consumer Affairs and Protection. The hearing will also examine whether current funding levels provide the Department of Agriculture and Markets and the Consumer Protection Board with the resources necessary to protect consumers from foodborne illness.
Please see the reverse side for a list of questions in response to which witnesses may direct their testimony.
Oral testimony will be limited to ten minute durations. Ten copies of any prepared testimony should be submitted at the hearing registration desk. The Committees would appreciate advance receipt of prepared statements. Written testimony will also be accepted and may be sent to the contact persons listed on the reply form. In order to publicize the hearing further, please inform interested parties of the Committees' interest in receiving written testimony from all sources.
In order to meet the needs of those who may have a disability, the Assembly, in accordance with their policy of non-discrimination on the basis of disability, as well as the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), has made its facilities and services available to all individuals with disabilities. For individuals with disabilities, accommodations will be provided, upon reasonable request, to afford such individuals access and admission to Senate and Assembly facilities and activities.
State funding for several Local Assistance programs was eliminated during the SFY 2009-10 budget. These include the Plum Pox Virus Eradication & Indemnity program and the Taste New York program. What is the status of these programs, and how have these cuts affected them? How do such changes, if any, affect the safety of the food supply in New York?
Dairy farmers continue to suffer from low milk prices. Does the Department anticipate receiving any type of federal funding for our State's dairy farmers in the upcoming year should prices not rebound? Will consumers suffer any shortage of safe, affordable milk due to the economic problems?
The State recently received $33 million in federal funding for the extermination of the Asian long-horned beetle in New York State. How does the Department plan to use this funding to combat the threat posed by this pest?
As part of the SFY 2009-10 budget, the Legislature increased the penalties for certain violations of laws, chapters, rules and orders under Agriculture and Markets law. Has the Department witnessed a concomitant decline in violations as a result of this increase in penalties?
Licensing fees for commercial feed distributors and food processing establishments were increased as part of this year's budget, generating additional revenue for the Consumer Food Services and Plant Industry Accounts. How has this additional revenue been utilized?
What new initiatives has the Department of Agriculture and Markets undertaken due to the SFY 2009-10 budget? What new initiatives, if any, does the Department anticipate for upcoming fiscal year?
The Deficit Reduction Plan calls for cuts, including a total workforce reduction of twenty-four employees. How will the Department of Agriculture and Markets deal with this reduction? To what extent will the cuts come from food safety programs?
Approximately how many inspections does the Consumer Food Services program perform each fiscal year? Approximately how many inspections uncover a violation? What procedures are implemented following a violation to ensure compliance?
Among other provisions, Chapter 315 of the Laws of 2009 requires the Department of Agriculture and Markets to promulgate rules and regulations for the production and labeling of olive oils and olive-pomace oils. What is the status of such rules and regulations?
The Deficit Reduction Plan includes a State Operations reduction of $70,000 from enacted State Fiscal Year 2009-10 levels for the Consumer Protection Board budget. How is the Board planning to deal with this reduction?
What new initiatives has the Consumer Protection Board undertaken to protect New Yorkers from food-borne illness and other potential threats, such as identity theft and consumers scams, as a result of the SFY 2009-10 budget? What new initiatives, if any, does the Board anticipate for SFY 2010-11?