|Earlier this week, the President’s FY 2020 budget was released, proposing significant cuts to USDA programs, including eliminating funding for the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program (WIC FMNP).
While farmers market programs fare better than in previous presidential budget proposals, eliminating WIC FMNP would undermine years of work to ensure that low income families, particularly women and children, have access to healthy produce from America’s family-owned farms.
Each year, WIC FMNP directly connects over a 1.5 million low income families to 17,000 independent farmers at local 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 for our most vulnerable neighbors, it stimulates real economic growth for local farmers and businesses.
While Congress, not the president, actually sets federal spending, the proposal to eliminate WIC FMNP sends a clear message that the best interests of low income families and local farmers are not priorities of the administration.
Within the coming days, FMC will be working with congressional champions to demonstrate support for the program on Capitol Hill. 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.