House CR includes disaster, WIC provisions
The continuing resolution to fund the government that the House passed Tuesday includes agriculture disaster aid provisions and a provision to extend the increase for fruit and vegetable purchases in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children.
The bill H.R.5305 – Extending Government Funding and Delivering Emergency Assistance Act – passed 220 to 211 along party lines. At present it has little chance of passing the Senate.
House Agriculture Committee Chairman David Scott, D-Ga., House Agriculture General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Subcommittee Chair Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., and House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Sanford Bishop, D-Ga., noted the ag disaster assistance in a joint news release.
“This bill provides $10 billion for agriculture disaster assistance programs and extends coverage to events that occurred in 2020 and this year. This support is crucial to our farmers, ranchers and producers and helping them recover from disaster ensures the fruits of their labor can provide affordable, nutritious food, textiles, and other vital materials across the country,” said Bishop. “Climate change has resulted in more frequent and destructive hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, floods, frosts, and other natural disasters. Congress must act quickly to ensure these programs remain at the ready to help our farms and ranches recover when disaster hits.”
“Inclusion of these provisions is the fastest way to get this critical assistance out the door to our producers, and it will bring more producers into the crop insurance program,” Scott said.
“The disaster relief included in this package can’t come a moment too soon. From the drought in the West Coast and Upper Plains – and now the Upper Midwest – to derechos and floods, this package will help producers whether they’re impacted by severe drought or heavy rains and winds,” said Bustos. “It also requires any producer who receives a payment under WHIP+ to enroll in crop insurance, and we know that the more acres we have enrolled in crop insurance, the less we’ll have to rely on disaster programs like this one. I’m proud to support this package to help our farmers in need as they continue to navigate historic climate change.”
The Rev. Douglas Greenaway, president and CEO of the National WIC Association, said the continuing resolution includes a provision to extend the American Rescue Plan Act’s temporary increase of WIC’s Cash Value Benefit for fruit and vegetable purchases that was set to expire on Sept. 30. The Continuing Resolution would extend the benefit increase until December 2021 and reset benefit levels according to independent scientific recommendations from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
Under the American Rescue Plan Act, both women and children received $35 per month. Should the Continuing Resolution pass, WIC fruit and vegetable benefits would be set at 50% of recommended intake based on varying dietary patterns, resulting in $24 per month for children, $43 per month for pregnant and postpartum participants, and $47 per month for breastfeeding participants.
“With more than 4.7 million women and children facing a steep decrease in benefits by Sept. 30, Congress must act to ensure continued access to nutritious foods that support healthy pregnancies and guarantee a healthy start for all children in the United States,” Greenaway said.
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