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Hunger Beat

Update on Deficit Reduction and the Food and Nutrition Safety Net

Did the Super Committee process really fail?
As you may have heard, the Super Committee has failed to put forth a comprehensive deficit reduction plan. Under the terms of the Budget Control Act, this means that automatic sequestration, or cuts in government spending, will go into effect in January 2013.

What does this mean for the food and nutrition safety net?
The automatic cuts, which would total $1.2 trillion over 10 years, would affect defense and non-defense programs equally. Many low-income programs, including child nutrition, SNAP and TEFAP commodities, would be protected from these cuts. However, WIC is not exempt from automatic sequester.

What happens next?
We can expect heated debate in 2012 over whether to attempt another comprehensive deficit reduction effort before the sequester goes into effect in January 2013, and attempts to amend the terms of the sequester. Given that 2012 is an election year, this debate can be expected to dominate both the presidential and congressional campaigns. We also expect the Farm Bill to be debated during the 2012 calendar year.

What You Can Do:
The need for sustained advocacy continues. The need to show constituent support for nutrition assistance programs does not end with the Super Committee’s failure. We must continue to educate members of Congress about the need for and value of nutrition-assistance programs. Keep up your efforts to meet with Members of Congress, make phone calls and send letters, and reach out to your local media. Take advantage of every opportunity to reinforce our key advocacy message: “No cuts to SNAP, TEFAP and other nutrition safety net programs in this time of growing need.”

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