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Monday, January 16, 2017

BIG BATTLES OVER FOOD POLICY LOOM IN DC

President-elect Trump hasn't yet nominated someone to head USDA and the Food and Drug Administration. But this lack of attention won't make future food battles any less cutthroat. Plenty of people in Washington, including powerful factions in the Republican majority in Congress, are hoping to change a wide variety of food-related policies and believe that the new administration offers a prime opportunity to do so.

Among the potential changes to watch for:

  • The Farm Bill, which funds both SNAP (food stamps) and farm subsidies, is due to be renegotiated by the end of 2018. Some conservative Republicans probably will renew their efforts to separate the farm-related provisions and the nutrition programs into separate bills. Many observers believe that this would leave each of them more vulnerable to attack. But farm groups and poverty advocates are likely to mount a fierce counterattack. The stakes are high. SNAP, in particular, is one of the country's most important "safety net" programs for the poor.
  • There could be attempts to roll back parts of the school lunch reforms ushered in during the Obama administration. Congress might try to undo school meal standards or dismantle the National School Lunch Program by converting it into block grants that states could manage with only limited federal oversight.
  • New menu labeling rules could be at risk. Federal standards requiring chain restaurants to list calories on menus or menu boards are set to go into effect in 2017. Those rules were mandated by the Affordable Care Act, which is set for repeal.

Source: NPR, 12/28/16, Food Fights