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Federal Budget

4/15/11 - CFSC's statement on FY11 Spending Plan and House FY12 Budget Proposal

Since the 112th Congress took office, debate in both the House and the Senate has focused on cutting government spending. Decisions made in Washington over the next few months will have a dramatic impact on people across the country. Low-income people, including participants in federal nutrition programs, are particularly at risk from the kinds of cuts being considered.

Senators Corker (R-TN) and McCaskill (D-MO), have introduced a plan to limit total federal spending to just over one-fifth of our nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) over the next ten years. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has analyzed the “draconian cuts” that would be required to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other essential programs. Read their analysis.


The federal government still does not have a budget for the current fiscal year, which ends on September 30. The current continuing resolution allows FY11 spending only until April 8, so the threat of a government shutdown looms. (For background on what a government shutdown could mean for you, see this Q&A from AARP).

The most recent three-week continuing resolution includes $6 billion in cuts to domestic discretionary spending, on top of the $4 billion cut through the previous two-week measure. At this rate, a series of short-term measures could slash tens of billions of dollars from federal programs and services that have fostered economic progress, responded to economic emergencies, and provided protection and greater security for low- and moderate-income families and individuals.

In February, the House approved a funding plan for the remainder of the 2011 fiscal year (H.R. 1) that would reduce agency budgets by as much as 40% in an attempt to address the federal deficit. House Republicans pushed the legislation by a vote of 235 to 192 – with all 189 Democrats and three Republicans opposing the bill. While Democrats agree with Republicans that spending cuts are necessary, many feel that the Republican plan will actually harm economic growth and job creation by making irresponsible cuts.

CFSC is working with allies to educate members of Congress and the public about the dangers of harsh cuts to human needs programs. One of H.R. 1’s largest cuts is to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), with a decrease of $747 million in funding. Additional funding reductions for agriculture and nutrition programs include:

  • $88 million from the Food Safety and Inspection Service;
  • $687 million from Food for Peace;
  • $217 million from the National Institute for Food & Agriculture;
  • $20 million from the Commodity Supplemental Food Program; and
  • $109.5 million from the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Grants.

The bill also zeroes out funding for several programs including the Congressional Hunger Center ($3 million cut), Hunger Free Communities grants ($5 million cut), TEFAP infrastructure grants ($6 million cut), and Community gardens ($1 million cut).

Some of the most damaging cuts for low-income people come outside the nutrition programs. For example, H.R. 1 proposes the elimination of funding for the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) program for the remainder of FY 2011, and a nearly two-thirds reduction for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. CSBG and CDBG have both been used to fund food-related projects in some states, such as New York.

For more information on how these proposed budget cuts would both harm individuals and damage the country’s fragile economic recovery, read this report from the Coalition on Human Needs. The Center for American Progress has prepared a helpful infographic comparing the 10 safety-net programs slated for deep cuts with the cost of the tax breaks that should instead be considered for reduction or elimination to bring the budget into balance.

FY 2012

In February, President Obama issued his budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2012, part of a White House effort to reduce the deficit by more than $1 trillion over the next decade. The $3.7 trillion package trims or terminates more than 200 federal programs next year and freezes annual domestic spending for the next five years. At the same time, the proposal includes key investments in education, transportation, and research in a bid to boost the nation’s economy and create jobs.

The budget proposes $23.9 billion in discretionary funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a decrease of $3.2 billion from FY 2010 spending. The savings would come from reducing direct payments to high-income farmers, refocusing USDA’s homeownership programs, and targeting USDA conservation programs to high priority ecosystems.

The President’s proposal reflects the Administration’s priorities of revitalizing rural America and investing in local and regional food systems. Many of the programs CFSC has championed received strong support, including:

  • $5 million in mandatory funding as provided by the 2008 Farm Bill for the Community Food Projects Competitive Grant Program.
  • $2 million to support the Farm to School Tactical Team, building linkages between schools and local producers.
  • $35 million for the Healthy Food Financing Initiative, a public-private grant and loan program to bring grocery stores and other healthy food retailers to underserved communities.
  • Measures to strengthen and expand access to farmers’ markets, including $10 million for the Farmers’ Market Promotion Program (as provided by the 2008 Farm Bill), and $4 million to equip farmers’ markets with wireless EBT terminals.

The budget funds improvements to child nutrition programs mandated by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, as they become effective in 2012. Following through on the commitment he made when signing the legislation, the President has proposed to restore funding for SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) that was used to offset its costs.

However, not all programs CFSC has supported were spared. The President’s budget proposes to eliminate funding for both the Healthy Urban Food Enterprise Development Center (HUFED) and the School Community Garden pilot program – both previously funded at $1 million in FY 2010.

For further analysis of how the President's budget relates to Community Food Security programs, see these documents:

SAVE For All Campaign

Real people’s lives will be affected by the changes our policymakers are negotiating. That is why CFSC and more than 1,200 other national, state and local organizations have joined the SAVE for All (Strengthening America’s Values and Economy for All) Campaign.

The Campaign’s Statement of Principles focuses on protecting low- and moderate-income people in budget and deficit reduction, preventing damaging structural changes in essential programs, and investments in the "infrastructure for success," including food and nutrition programs.

SAVE for All, led by the Coalition on Human Needs, includes a broad spectrum of national advocacy groups, service providers, faith-based organizations, labor, civil rights groups and policy experts focused on protecting and strengthening the federal programs and services that have fostered economic progress, responded to economic emergencies, and provided protection and greater security for low- and moderate-income families and individuals.

Join the SAVE for All Campaign, and get a list of current endorsers.

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