USDA announces update of WIC food packages

The USDA has completed a months-long update of the foods available through the Women, Infants, and Children program (WIC) to reflect the latest nutrition science, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Tuesday. The new list, which includes a significant expansion of fruit and vegetable benefits, would take effect in about 60 days.

FTC: Single-source WIC contracts may make infant formula market more fragile

The way state agencies purchase infant formula for low-income households, under the Women, Infants and Children program, may be creating a less resilient supply chain, said the Federal Trade Commission in a report on factors in the 2022 shortage of formula.

Appropriations bill offers full funding for WIC and role for USDA on CFIUS

The Women, Infants, and Children program will get a $1 billion increase in funding this year to meet rising food costs and increased enrollment, said leaders of the Senate and House Appropriations committees on Sunday. (No paywall)

Congress avoids government shutdown, for fourth time

The House and Senate speedily passed a short-term government funding bill on Thursday, averting a partial government shutdown this weekend that would have included the USDA. “Now let us finish the job of funding the government so we don’t have to do this again,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Six-week government funding bill is proposed

The Senate was scheduled to take a procedural vote on Tuesday afternoon to keep the government running until early March, a six-week extension of the stop-gap funding bill now in place. If Congress fails to act, funding for the USDA and four other federal departments would expire on Friday.

Administration calls for full WIC funding in 2024

Congress should provide an additional $1 billion for the Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program in January when it votes on funding for the USDA and several other federal departments, said Biden administration officials on Wednesday.

Funding shortfall could cut WIC enrollment by one fourth

State agencies would have to cut WIC enrollment by 28 percent, or nearly 2 million women and children, by next September if Congress fails to fully fund the program, said the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities on Tuesday. "WIC needs $1 billion" due to higher food costs and rising enrollment, said Sharon Parrott, the think tank's president.

Senate passes ‘minibus’ with USDA-FDA funding

By a landslide margin, the Senate passed a package of three government funding bills that included money for the USDA and FDA on Wednesday. Senate Appropriations chair Patty Murray said it was time for House Republicans "to get serious about governing" and speedily wrap up work to fund the government for fiscal 2024, which began on Oct. 1.

WIC shortfall would squeeze Black and Hispanic families the most

Some 600,000 parents and young children would be denied WIC benefits under USDA funding bills pending in the House and Senate, said the think tank Center on Budget and Policy Priorities on Thursday. “The eligible people who would be put on waiting lists are disproportionately in Black and Hispanic families,” said a CBPP blog.

Food insecurity soars 30 percent as pandemic aid ends

More than 44 million Americans experienced food insecurity last year, the highest number since 2014, at the same time that pandemic assistance was reduced, said a USDA report on Wednesday. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and anti-hunger groups called on Congress to protect funding for public nutrition programs, including WIC and SNAP.

Red meat for Republicans, cuts for Democrats in Ag chair’s farm bill wish list

To pay for farm bill priorities such as crop subsidies, House Agriculture chairman Glenn Thompson suggested $50 billion in cuts, mostly to climate change and public nutrition programs that are strongly supported by Democratic lawmakers. The proposal, quickly rejected, pointed to long-running disagreements over the farm bill with time running out for action this year.

Senate stopgap bill keeps WIC at full strength

Leaders of the Senate Appropriations Committee unveiled a short-term government funding bill on Tuesday that would allow the USDA to provide full benefits to the 6.7 million participants of the Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program. A test vote showed strong Senate support for the bipartisan bill.

Farm bill could be victim of government shutdown — Vilsack

It will be difficult or even impossible for Congress to enact a new farm bill amid the disruptions of a federal shutdown, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told reporters at the White House on Monday. A shutdown could begin on Saturday when government funding lapses, which is the same day the 2018 farm law expires. But agricultural leaders in Congress have some leeway — until December — to act on the farm bill.

Shutdown would jeopardize USDA nutrition program and crop reports

The Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program serving 6.7 million poor people could run out of money within a few days if Congress cannot agree to fund the government beyond Saturday, said a USDA official. In a repeat of the Trump era, a shutdown also could derail the monthly USDA crop report, but a USDA contingency plan says meat inspectors would stay on the job.

Senate has no appetite for House funding bill — Schumer

House Republicans wrote a one-sided, "slapdash and reckless" bill to keep the government running after Sept. 30, said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Monday. House passage of the GOP package, which called for an 8 percent cut in discretionary spending from current levels with an exemption for the military and veterans, was not certain since some Republican lawmakers spoke against it.

White House pushes Congress for help in meeting WIC needs

The Biden administration is taking a two-step approach to supplying enough money for the Women, Infants, and Children food program to meet larger-than-expected enrollment, said the White House on Wednesday.

WIC needs an additional $1 billion — or more — says think tank

Due to rising participation rates and food inflation, the Women, Infants, and Children program will need $7.2 billion to $7.3 billion in the fiscal year starting Oct. 1 — far above the amounts being considered by Congress, said the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities on Wednesday.

McCarthy: ‘Let’s get the rest of the work requirements’

An exultant House Speaker Kevin McCarthy twice suggested House Republicans would seek more stringent work requirements for the government’s safety net programs now that the House overwhelmingly approved a debt ceiling bill that also limits federal spending. “Think about how much further we can go,” McCarthy told reporters.

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