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activities. The hindrances that may have occurred are from other sources.
Senator HARRIS. One last question. If DBS is amalgamated with FDA, how important do you think it is that the new agency be independent of HEW?
Dr. HAYFLICK. I really have no strong feeling in response to that question. I can see the identity of these agencies more logically falling under the aegis of HEW. But, on the other hand, the mechanics of successfully operating a control agency should have the highest priority, and if the mechanics are better achieved through HEW, then, sobeit.
On the other hand, I can see very meritorious argument for including it in a separate agency:
Senator HARRIS. Anything further, Dr. Hayflick?
Mr. Leonard is former Administrator of the Consumer and Marketing Service of the Department of Agriculture and is presently executive director of the Community Nutrition Institute here in Washington.
Mr. Leonard, we are pleased you are here, and we would be glad to hear from you.
TESTIMONY OF RODNEY E. LEONARD, FORMER ADMINISTRATOR OF THE CONSUMER AND MARKETING SERVICE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE AND PRESENTLY THE EXECUTIVE DI. RECTOR OF THE COMMUNITY NUTRITION INSTITUTE IN WASHINGTON, D.C.
Mr. LEONARD. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
In order to conserve time, I would like to just have my statement inserted in the record.
Senator HARRIS. Without objection, that will be done. (See exhibit 5, p. 127.)
THREE MAJOR POINTS
Mr. LEONARD. We are talking about three major points.
One is the question of the institutional structure for a consumer agency. The problem is not so much whether it is S. 1171 or S. 3419 as it is that we do not get bogged down in conflict over jurisdiction. We are trying to create an institutional basis for dealing with all of these problems.
The second major problem, it seems to me, is how you provide an advocacy function within that framework.
Thus far, it has been rather difficult to find any kind of in-house advocacy procedures which remain able to perform over any extended period of time.
The Department of Agriculture, for example, had a consumer advocate in 1937 and 1938 under Secretary Wallace and the advocate re
mained as long as Secretary Wallace was willing to take the criticism and guff, and the pressures internally. He finally had to end it.
So, in the files of the Department there is a beautiful history of internal advocacy that did not succeed.
The third point is that even with S. 3419, you are considering legislation which I think will be inadequate if it only does what the legislation now proposes. The problem is simply that you are not going far enough. The Consumer Safety Agency will not be able to deal effectively with food and drug problems as we face them today, or even as we face them in the next decade, unless you transfer to the agency the power and the authority that is now in the Department of Agriculture for poultry and meat inspection, as well as quite a number of other functions including the Consumer Marketing Service which would provide grading programs for food products that control price setting on milk and various other activities such as authority to intervene on transportation rate cases.
Food and nutrition service ought to be transferred, because that provides the mechanism by which food services and nutritional services begin to be delivered to both families and children.
It ought to include the Commodity Analysis Branch and other market analysis functions of the Economic Research Service.
It ought to include the Agricultural Research Service activities relating to consumer and food economics, the regional utilization laboratories, human nutrition, and in pesticides.
In addition to those transfers, the legislation ought to require or specify additional functions similar to those that now exist in the Department of Agriculture:
There ought to be a statistical reporting service, to collect, and to disseminate, after analysis, significant information on consumer programs, problems, actions, and activities.
There ought to be an extention service to provide useful and worthwhile information within an education program.
CONSUMER LIBRARY NEEDED
There ought to be a consumer library to collect, catalog, and make available all information on consumers and their programs, not only in this country but throughout the world.
What I am saying is that until we put together a structure which matches in complexity the Department of Agriculture, a structure which has solved better than anything else in the world the problems of producing food but which is yet unable to really resolve the problems of feeding people--until you put together a complex of that capacity, you are really kind of kidding yourselves that you are going to put together a useful consumer agency. In food the problem we deal with today is not production. We solved that pretty well. In food and agriculture, the problem is to insure the distribution and delivery of food. And it cannot be done by an agency which has limited policy authority or limited operational tools.
It obviously is not going to be done by the Department of Agriculture. The Department of Agriculture faces too many problems. There
is a filtering process that insures that even if there are efforts made within those agency functions to serve consumer interests, the filters pretty much remove that before any specific action can be taken.
The filters work in quite obvious ways. Positions in these agencies are filled, both those that relate to policy functions as well as those that relate to the top-level administrative posts; through a process where the industry and farm interests vitally affected by these programs pass on those appointments. Once you get those people in those positions, there is very little pressure for them to respond to consumer needs or consumer problems.
In fact, the only time you do get a response is when the problem becomes so obviously bad it cannot be avoided.
I do not think that what I am proposing is necessarily going to be very easy. Agricultural interests, while they only reflect about 4 percent of the total population, nonetheless are very strong politically. Recent events in the last few months have indicated they want to keep all of these functions together. They know very well that it is important to keep them as hostages for trading purposes in agricultural legislation and agricultural appropriations.
But, if we are to have meaningful consumer legislation which creates an institutional basis for considering consumer problems, that either we will have to transfer these functions or else create new functions to the same kind of governmental services as are available in the USDA.
Senator HARRIS. Thank you very much, Mr. Leonard.
I was particularly taken with your comments about the agricultural filter, as you called it. Do you think it is less likely-and I take it you do—that that same filter would not exist if you moved the functions over to another and separate agency outside the Department?
Do you imagine they would find their way over there, too? And if that is true, is there some way we could guard against it?
Mr. LEONARD. I think so. In the period I was in the Department, we began making an effort to shift more emphasis onto consumer programs. We were not as successful as we would like to have been, but I found that if you were able to give the staff very clear directions as to what you wanted to do and why you were doing it, and you backed them up on it, then they very quickly were able to pick up and follow those policy directions.
I think there is a lot of deadwood in the civil service, and that needs to be cleared out. But that is a continuing process, and regardless of where you put assignments in agencies, you will have to continue doing that. There are, however, some very intelligent people in civil service, and they are very quick to sense policy directions.
MEAT AND POULTRY INSPECTION
When the Department very recently transferred meat and poultry inspection out of consumer-marketing and put it in the animal health division, it became very obvious to inspectors that, whatever consumer functions they once may have performed, those were now being downgraded. The reaction of the inspectors in the field and of staff people here in Washington has been to reflect great demoralization in this agency. But they also know if they are going to survive for 25 or 30 years and get their pension when they retire, they cannot fight it, so they have to go along. Those that fight in the field are transferred, and eventually find they must go to work someplace else outside the agency.
The filter can be changed. Instead of filtering out the consumer responses, it can insure that those are passed through and become of the policy mechanism.
Senator Harris. You heard some of these other questions and comments earlier, on in particular about the strength of the functions in getting sufficient appropriations in a department or in a separate agency. You said something about agriculture likes to keep these functions hostage to help get funds for other unrelated functions. So, I take it you would think an independent agency might have a stronger chance at funds.
Do you have any comment about that or is that a correct assumption ?
Mr. LEONARD. I know in the large agencies like Agriculture or HEW that appropriation levels reflect a great number of priority decisions.
First of all, the agency has its own priorities and needs, and then the request passes on through. I think one of the advantages of this legislation is that it requires the budgeting process be open all of the way. You can see where needs begin and where other priorities take precedent.
On the hostage question, consumer functions that now exist in Agriculture or HEW are budgeted on the basis of a kind of bargaining arrangement. I sat last year and listened to testimony in the House Agriculture Appropriations Committee, and Jamie Whitten-one of the outstanding Congressmen, a very intelligent man and does his homework beautifully-made it very clear that he looked upon the consumer and the ecological functions over which his committee now has jurisdiction as important to agriculture. By putting all of these new functions together, agriculture had a better chance of getting the money out of Congress that agriculture wanted.
In the Department, even in the period I was there, it was quite obvious that in order for the Secretary to come up on the Hill and to pursue the interests of the price-support programs—and this is the real heart of the agriculture complex; USDA spokesmen spend all of their time on price-support programs and very little time on the other aspects—we had to consider all other functions as ancillary to that basic one. We traded off in order to advance the interests of the price-support progam.
In a way, it is a natural thing to do. You take advantage of the strength that you have.
But in this context the consumer interests is always thrust into a second position.
Senator HARRIS. You mentioned, earlier this month the Agriculture Department announced the establishment of a new Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service which combines the Meat and Poultry Inspection function in the Consumer and Marketing service and the animal and plant health protection functions of the Animal and Plant Health Service. What do you think about that reorganization as far as improving the efficiency of the programs?
Then, that includes sort of another question: How would you rate the performance of these inspection programs today?
Mr. LEONARD. Well, to the first question, reorganization is a throwback. What they are doing is putting together the meat inspection program as it existed prior to the 1960's. I think it is part of a grander strategy to repose only basic standard-setting functions and other non-field work in the Department of Agriculture and to transfer those functions over to 50 other agencies, mainly State agencies.
The hope is that the administration can convince Congress to pay the cost of inspection to the State agencies; the State agencies would do the inspection, and the Department of Agriculture then would be able to rebuild the old Animal Health and Industry Bureau that existed, I guess around 1920 to 1955 or 1960.
I think if that is done, it will have a devastating impact on consumer safety, on the efficiency and adequacy of the inspection program.
Senator HARRIS. One last question. It has been said that one problem we have with this bill is that FDA's food inspection program and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's meat and poultry and egg inspection programs are different in manpower, budget, methods, regulatory philosophy, et cetera.
What sort of problems do you foresee in integrating those functions into a single agency?
Mr. LEONARD. Well, the basic problem is that FDA operates under a completely different philosophical basis than the Department of Agriculture. The Department believes it is necessary to keep inspectors in on-site in all slaughtering operations and to have them on patrol basis on the meat processing plants, while FDA has a program which is described as encouraging good manufacturing practices. They do not do a lot of on-site inspection. This policy conflict will have to be resolved. I think that putting the agencies together will resolve it. It has to be resolved now within the Federal Government, because the meat and poultry inspection program budget proposal this year is $155 million and the total FDA budget, including Food and Drug, is $144 million.
If you tried to duplicate in FDA the kind of programs that are operated in U.S. Department of Agriculture, the budget impact would be substantial and would cause great concern.
Yet it is obvious that the program the U.S. Department of Agriculture is operating in meat and poultry inspection is less than adequate, and it is particularly true on the poultry side; it is particularly true in the food-processing side.
I do not have any answers for it, but quite obviously neither does the Administration, because nobody is facing that problem. I think you combine the two structures immediately, that question would have to be resolved. Congress could force a resolution in this area. I think it would be worth while doing. I do not think it would take very long.
Senator Harris. Do you have any specific suggestions yourself about how it might be resolved or what the Congress could do to resolve it?