EQIP Funding Endangered

March 23, 2010 07:00 PM

Beef Today Editors

The U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry today unanimously approved Committee Chairman Blanche Lincoln's (D-AR) Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 reauthorizing childhood nutrition programs. The legislation invests $4.5 billion in new child nutrition program funding over the next 10 years. Funds to offset the program, however, could come from the popular Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

Nationwide, over 30 million children participate in the National School Lunch Program each day and more than 10 million children participate in the National School Breakfast Program.

The bill takes steps to address the epidemic of childhood obesity with a provision to create national school nutrition standards for all foods sold on school campuses throughout the school day. The provision requires the Secretary of Agriculture to establish national nutrition standards consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans for all foods sold on school campuses throughout the school day. Current regulations limiting the sale of foods sold in schools are very narrow and have not been updated in almost 30 years.

While Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), ranking Republican member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, commended the bill. He remains concerned about using funding from the EQIP as an offset for this bill.  "EQIP is highly popular and widely used by farmers, ranchers and private forest landowners. It is so popular it had $1.3 billion in unfunded applications in fiscal year 2009," says Chambliss.   

"The administration argues that the cuts to EQIP will have no practical effect on the ground," he said in a statement. "However, I disagree. The cut will mean fewer producers will receive assistance to address the conservation and environmental challenges they face. I can't think of a less opportune time to reduce assistance available to producers to deal with current challenges and future regulations required by EPA." 

To read more from Chambliss, click here.

To read more on the child nutrition bill, click here.

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