Cuts Proposed for WIC and Other Important Food and Nutrition Programs
The House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee approved $17 billion in FY 2004 agriculture spending on June 17th, nearly $1 billion less than the amount appropriated in FY 2003, according to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
The House subcommittee cut several food and nutrition programs below last year’s appropriations levels. Taking the most significant cut, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) would be funded at $4.6 billion for the 2004 fiscal year – $108 million below last year and $181 million below the President’s request. Over the past year, the number of mothers and young children receiving WIC help has increased by about 140,000 (from 7.45 million in March 2002 to 7.59 million in March 2003). Food costs also rose during this period. Even with level funding, mothers and children would likely be turned away; reduced funding will be expected to cut down on the numbers served even more.
The Commodity Supplemental Food Program was also cut below FY 2003 funding – even after taking into account funds carried over from last year, and despite rising demand for emergency food. The WIC Farmers’ Market Program was also cut. The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) was level-funded at $150 million. Child nutrition programs (including school meals, Summer Food Service, and the Child and Adult Care Food Program) are modestly increased, from $10.6 billion to $11.4 billion. Food Stamp funding rose from $26.3 billion in FY 2003 to $27.7 billion.
(For a list of nutrition program appropriation levels and other updates, see Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) website.
On Thursday, June 19, the Senate Appropriations Committee set allocations for all the appropriations subcommittees, matching the House’s $17 billion total for Agriculture. (Allocations for House and Senate Appropriations subcommittees)
The Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, chaired by Senator Robert F. Bennett, will likely begin markup before the July recess.