FARAD's funding as uncertain as in previous years

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A service intended to keep drug, pesticide, and contaminant residues out of food is undergoing its yearly fight for funding.

Supporters of the Food Animal Drug Residue Avoidance Databank, including the AVMA, are again advocating for Congress to provide money for the service, which gives science-based withdrawal times for food animals that have been given drugs or pesticides or been exposed to contaminants. The AVMA is asking for $2.5 million for the service in the 2011 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.

The service received $1 million in the 2010 fiscal year, but the president's proposed budget for the Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture included no money for FARAD for fiscal year 2011, USDA information states. A budget bill in the Senate would, if passed, provide $1 million for the service; appropriations figures from the House of Representatives were not available at press time.

Staff members at North Carolina State University, the University of California-Davis, and the University of Florida run FARAD.

Dr. Jim E. Riviere, director of the Center for Chemical Toxicology Research and Pharmacokinetics at North Carolina State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, said FARAD's administrators have to justify expenses for the program and ask for support every year, despite a need for the service to provide safe extended withdrawal times. He knows people use the service, but he is frustrated with the repeated attempts to make sure it is funded.

Dr. Riviere said the single-year funding commitments make it impossible to hire staff members who can be assured their jobs will be secure for multiple years.

FARAD is used by veterinarians who issue prescriptions for extralabel use of pharmaceuticals under the Animal Medicinal Drug Use Clarification Act of 1994, which requires extended withdrawal periods for food animals following extralabel drug use. Data from the service are also used by manufacturers to support drug approval applications.

Dr. Ronald E. Baynes, an associate professor of pharmacology at NCSU, said FARAD's funding problems could be resolved if the service's operators were allowed to apply for multiple years of funding through competitive grants available through the USDA and National Institutes of Health.