Budget Cuts Target WIC at Farmers Markets
Posted On: June 2, 2017
The Farmers Market Coalition is deeply concerned that the President’s proposed 2018 budget completely eliminates funding for the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP). WIC FMNP provides low-income, pregnant, and postpartum women with coupons to buy fresh produce from authorized farmers and farmers markets. FMNP also teaches new mothers how to select, store, and prepare fresh produce in order to improve their children’s diets.
Congress created the program in 1992 with the dual mandate of increasing participants’ consumption of healthy produce and to expand sales at America’s farmers markets. Evidence suggests that the program succeeds in both of these goals. A program evaluation conducted by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services concluded that 72% of program participants report that because of WIC FMNP they ate more fresh fruits and vegetables than they had previously, and 86% reported that they plan to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables all year round. For their part, over 50% of farmers surveyed in Washington state reported that revenue generated by FMNP is a critical factor in determining whether or not to sell at a specific farmers market.
Any comprehensive strategy for deficit reduction and taxpayer relief must focus on long-term cost savings and economic growth. At a time when America pays roughly $200 billion annually to combat diet-related diseases, improving the nutritional well-being of America’s children and new mothers will yield untold savings for American taxpayers in the years and decades to come. From the perspective of economic growth, a growing body of research indicates that money (and federal benefits) spent at farmers markets have an outsized economic stimulus. Because WIC FMNP benefits can only be spent at farmers markets, the program ensures that program revenue goes directly to American farmers.
Healthy families and prosperous rural communities must be the goal of American agriculture policy.