President’s Budget Proposes Elimination of WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program
By: Ben Feldman Posted On: February 12, 2020
On Monday, the President’s FY 2021 budget proposal was released. In addition to significant cuts to agriculture and safety net programs, the proposal once again suggests eliminating funding for the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program (WIC FMNP). Ending such a program would undermine years of work to ensure that independant American family-owned farms are able to benefit from federal nutrition programs and that low income families, particularly women and children, have access to the freshest and healthiest foods. While Congress, not the president, sets federal spending, this budget sends a clear message that the best interests of low income families and local farmers are not priorities of the administration.
Each year, WIC FMNP directly connects over 1.5 million low income families to 17,000 independent farmers at farmers markets nationwide. The impact of the program cannot be understated. When WIC FMNP was created in 1992, it was the first program of its kind, and the first time that the WIC program included fresh fruits and vegetables. Still today, WIC FMNP provides an additional 67 million servings of fruits and vegetables each year to low income, pregnant women and children — healthy produce that they otherwise may not have been able to put on their tables. Scientific research supports this idea, and has shown that WIC FMNP increases access to and consumption of produce among WIC families.
For farmers markets and farmers, the program represents meaningful income that helps to keep them in business. Greenmarkets, a New York City based non-profit market operator estimates that the elimination of the WIC FMNP program would force the closure of 13 of their farmers markets, while in Washington state, markets have estimated that 400 jobs would be lost without WIC FMNP. In short, not only does the program provide more healthy food to our most vulnerable neighbors, it stimulates real economic growth for local farmers and businesses.
Given the importance of this program to farmers and shoppers across the country, FMC will not take this proposal lying down. Our advocacy in support of WIC FMNP will include sign-on letters in the House and Senate, mobilizing our policy partners, including the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, and a farmer and market manager fly-in. In the meantime please contact your legislators to let them know how the elimination of WIC FMNP would impact your market. Together, we can stand up for this important program.