The agricultural bill includes federal support for a number of major programs and initiatives, including rural development grants and various loan programs for farmers. It also contains funding for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, commonly referred to as WIC. The WIC program supports low-income pregnant women, new mothers, and infants at nutrition risk. The program provides health screening, food benefits, nutritional supports, and other health services, such as breastfeeding counseling for prenatal and postpartum mothers and their children up to age 5.
Over the last few decades, there has been strong bipartisan support for the program, and Congress has fully funded the program for every eligible woman who applied for more than 25 years. However, the proposed House agricultural bill for FY2024 includes cuts to the WIC program estimated to eliminate or reduce benefits for approximately 5.3 million infants and their mothers. In addition, 4.6 million eligible participants would have their food benefits cut, and an estimated 650,000-750,000 eligible women and children are anticipated to be turned away or waitlisted due to funding shortfalls.
The WIC program has proven itself for decades with research showing much improved outcomes for pregnant women, fewer preterm births, higher birthweights for children and improved early childhood physical and cognitive development. The investment made in WIC saves money in the future by reducing medical and educational costs in the long- term. Please consider reaching out to your members of Congress to voice your support for full funding of the WIC program in the new Federal budget. You can find your member of Congress here.