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Perdue issues sweeping reorganization memo

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is moving ahead with some reorganization moves just a few weeks after hitting the pause button so they could be discussed further. Specifically, in a memorandum issued Tuesday, Nov.14, Perdue said he was directing that the Codex Alimentarius program in USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service be moved to the Office of the Undersecretary for Trade and Agricultural Affairs.He also has decided to eliminate the Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) as a standalone agency and move its functions to a new Fair Trade Practices Area in the Agricultural Marketing Service and to AMS’ Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS).“The Packers and Stockyards Program, formerly part of GIPSA, and the Warehouse Act functions, formerly part of the Farm Service Agency, will be transferred to AMS and included in the Fair Trade Practices program area,” the memo says. “The grain inspection activities, formerly part of GIPSA, are to be included in (a) new program area” in AMS overseen by a new Deputy Administrator for FGIS.  The Food and Drug Administration and food safety groups had criticized the proposed move of the Codex program. In a letter to USDA, Stephen Ostroff, FDA's deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, said that the international Codex Alimentarius program “plays a critical role at the intersection of food safety and trade by developing science-based, voluntary food standards that governments may use to protect consumer health and provide a level playing field for food trade.”“FDA strongly believes that moving Codex to the oversight of a trade promoting, non-science organization could undermine the credibility of U.S. Codex as a science-based enterprise,” Ostroff said. “Transfer of the U.S. Codex Office under a trade umbrella would build a perception that the United States places a stronger priority on advancing trade over public health.”

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