March 17, 2010
This morning, Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) unveiled her “markup vehicle” for Child Nutrition Act reauthorization and scheduled Committee markup of her draft bill for next Wednesday, March 24. The proposal is titled “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.”
Farm to School would receive just $25 million in the current Lincoln draft. However, moves are underway to try to increase the amount to $50 million to match the $50 million proposed in Senator Leahy’s Growing Farm to School Programs Act (S. 3123), also released today.
Lincoln’s bill also increases the reimbursement rate schools receive for providing meals, includes new initiatives to increase enrollment of eligible low-income children, and expands afterschool feeding programs.
Overall, the proposed bill would increase spending on school meal programs by $4.5 billion over the next 10 years, or a bit less than half of what the President proposed in the budget he released in February. The Obama proposal asked for an increase of $1 billion a year, or $10 billion over 10 years, but did not suggest a way to offset those costs
The Lincoln proposal addresses the question of the offset by proposing a cut in farm bill conservation spending for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) by about $2.3 billion over 10 years, which would pay for half the cost of the proposed increase in school meal programs. That cut, if passed and if combined with a cut to EQIP spending in future annual agriculture appropriations bills of a similar magnitude to the one made in recent years, would put EQIP on level funding track rather than the increased funding track it would otherwise be on under the terms of the 2008 Farm Bill.
The other two “offsets” in the Lincoln package are roughly billion dollar cuts over 10 years to the SNAP Education program and a technical change to the bonus commodity program.
Three bill summaries and the full bill text are available under “Current Legislation” on the Senate Agriculture Committee website. NSAC will continue to follow the development of the markup process and will post information about farm to school funding, EQIP conservation funding, and related issues as it becomes available in the coming week or during the Committee mark-up a week from today.