DeLauro says GOP unraveling her work on food safety, nutrition

Food safety and nutrition programs would get the ax under a proposed Republican spending proposal for 2012 agriculture programs.

The draft legislation includes $973 million for food safety and inspection programs–a cut of $35 million from fiscal year 2011 levels. Nutrition and anti-hunger initiatives, such as the food stamp program, would get $90 billion-about $2 billion less than the White House had sought. And child nutrition programs would get $18.8 billion, a $1.5 billion bump-up over last year’s spending but $40 million below what President’s Obama had asked for.

Republicans on the committee said the bill was tough but fair in meeting the nation’s needs. On food safety, for example, the GOP majority said the funding would “continue critical meat, poultry, and egg product inspection and testing activities, and supports an expansion of a poultry inspection pilot project that will lead to improving food safety.”

Rep. Jack Kingston, the Republican subcommittee chairman from Georgia, said lawmakers had “begun making some of the tough choices necessary” to rein in federal deficits. “We have taken spending to below pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels while ensuring USDA, FDA, CFTC, and other agencies are provided the necessary resources to fulfill their duties,” he said.

But Rep. Rosa DeLauro, a member of the House Appropriations Committee and the former chair of the ag spending subcommittee, blasted the GOP proposal.

“It rolls back years of progress, especially on food safety,” DeLauro said, adding that the proposal seems to undo all the improvements and investments she worked for when she led the subcommittee.

“Among the most outrageous cuts are those to our essential nutrition and anti-hunger programs,” DeLauro said. Funding for food stamps and the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, she said, would be slashed by 22 percent, “meaning that up to 475,000 women and children will go hungry as a result.”

The bill is scheduled for committee debate and amendment today.