Congress Takes First Step to Preserve WIC FMNP
Posted On: July 5, 2017
By Alex Canepa, FMC Research and Education Director | email@example.com
Farmers markets and recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) won a victory last week when the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations release its provisional (or “marker”) agricultural appropriations bill which preserves funding for the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP). WIC FMNP had been targeted for complete elimination, along with the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP), in the President’s 2018 Budget Request, released in March.
Speaking on the President’s budget request, Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Robert Aderholt (R-AL) lamented, “popular programs with proven track records receive some of the steepest reductions or were eliminated outright. Many in agriculture and rural America are likely to find little to celebrate within the budget request.” While funding levels are reduced from 2017, the appropriations committee stopped short of granting the White House the deep cuts it sought to exact from nutrition and rural development programs. In total, the marker budget released by appropriations committee provides $4.64 billion in funding above the initial White House request.
Congress’ commitment to preserving WIC FMNP in the face of White House opposition signals both a willingness to listen to constituent concerns and underscores the evolving debate surrounding the future of agriculture and nutrition programs as Congress takes up the next Farm Bill. The reticence of agriculture appropriations committee members to rubberstamp cuts to popular programs speaks to the difficulty the White House may face in its efforts to eliminate programs funded in the Farm Bill, including the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP). While this is a promising sign, under continued pressure to cut the budget from both the White House and Congressional leadership, the Agriculture Committee will prioritize funding for Farm Bill programs for which it senses the most support. It is therefore incumbent on the farmers market community remains active in the Farm Bill debate throughout 2017 and 2018.