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Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. 2012

Location: Washington, DC

* Mr. KIND. Madam Chair, I rise today in strong opposition to the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012. This bill cuts the Woman, Infant, and Children (WIC) Program by more than $650 million. With the country in the midst of a fragile recovery, my Republican colleagues have decided to prevent up to 350,000 women and children from receiving benefits from this highly successful program. In Wisconsin alone, up to 4,800 women and children would not be able to enroll. For years, WIC has provided mothers and children with healthy foods, counseling on breast feeding, nutrition guidance, and health care referrals. At a time of economic uncertainty, particularly for lower and middle income individuals, these cuts don't make sense. These cuts are especially alarming because they break a 15 year commitment by members of both parties to allow anyone that qualifies to receive WIC benefits.

* Not only would the majority cut funding for WIC, they would also seek to underfund programs tailored to provide American children with nutrition education and more nutritious school lunches. Currently, one in three American children is considered overweight or obese. The number of children who are considered severely obese has more than tripled over a 25 year period. Providing America's children with healthy alternatives like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and school lunches is a small price to pay to help alleviate this epidemic. In fact, it will provide more long term deficit reduction and put us on a better fiscal path than anything the majority has proposed. The long term medical, financial, and societal costs posed by childhood obesity are a far greater threat to our fiscal stability than healthy foods in schools.

* Instead of putting deficit reduction on the backs of the country's most vulnerable citizens, I believe we should target true waste and fraud. For this appropriations bill, the country's outdated agriculture subsidy program is a good place to start.

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