The National Chicken Council (NCC) on Monday joined a coalition of more than 30 food and beverage associations in writing to the Obama administration and Congress urging officials to request more congressional funding for food safety efforts instead of relying on “user fees,” or food taxes.

“Maintaining the safety of the foods we produce is the highest priority of the food makers we represent and should be considered a top national priority,” the groups wrote in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and White House Budget Director Jeffrey Zients, who are working on the president’s FY2013 budget proposal, due February 13. “Federal food safety programs and inspections conducted by FDA benefit all American consumers and should be funded through appropriated funds.”

The administration’s FY 2012 budget request proposed raising revenue to fund implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) through new food safety fees. Such fees were rejected during congressional consideration of FSMA and were again rejected last year by congressional appropriators.

“As consumers continue to cope with a period of prolonged economic turbulence and food makers struggle with record high commodity prices, the creation of new food taxes or regulatory fees would mean higher costs for food makers and lead to higher food prices for consumers,”  the letter continued. “As such, we believe imposing new fees on food makers is the wrong option for funding food safety programs.”

A full copy of the letter is available here.