White House: Farm spending bill cuts would cause hunger

The White House on Monday criticized deep GOP-backed cuts to agriculture programs but stopped short of a veto threat.

A statement of administration policy released Monday laid out numerous objections to the agriculture spending bill, including that it would lead to hundreds of thousands or people being cut off from the Women, Infants and Children and Commodity Supplemental Food Programs, which both help low-income people get nutritional food.

The administration also suggested the bill could exacerbate global hunger through cuts to the international Food for Peace program. The cuts would mean that 1.1 million recipients of U.S. emergency food aid will go hungry, the administration warned.

The bill is expected to be considered on the House floor on Tuesday.

The agriculture bill is the third 2012 appropriations measure to come to the floor and the first containing dramatic cuts to core government programs. The appropriations process in the House is proceeding on the basis of the House-approved budget authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), though the Senate rejected his blueprint. 

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The administration's statement said cuts to food inspection “may” require the agency to furlough frontline food inspectors and it also notes that the measure includes no funding for first lady Michelle Obama’s signature healthy-foods initiative to combat childhood obesity.
 
Cuts to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission would significantly curtail the timely and effective implementation of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

The administration also criticizes language backed by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) that would restore some funding for child nutrition by ending payments to Brazilian farmers agreed to by the U.S. in order to avoid World Trade Organization-sanctioned retaliation. The administration warned the language could nullify the deal with Brazil and lead to sanctions against U.S. exports.

The administration also laid out its objection to language that would limit the Food and Drug Administration’s ability to regulate. Introduced by Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.), the language would prohibit funding for FDA regulatory activity unless it is based on "hard science" and a cost-benefit analysis.