Legislative Activity

House Agriculture, FDA Appropriations Bill

The House is scheduled to consider the Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) spending bill this week. The House Appropriations Committee approved the spending bill on May 29, which includes policy provisions such as authorizing a waiver process for schools having difficulty meeting the nutrition standards for the National School Lunch Program. Additionally, the bill requires USDA to submit a few reports on issues related to fraud and abuse under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), income eligibility under the Special Supplemental Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, etc.  The bill also creates a pilot program effective at the beginning of the 2014-15 school year for students in selected schools will have access to fruits and vegetables, including frozen fruits and vegetables, for the entire school year.

In seeking to fund FDA for FY 2015, the bill expresses concerns with the agency’s implementation and enforcement of specific proposed and existing regulations, including the Food Safety Modernization Act proposed rules (e.g., delaying the agency finalizing the Preventive Controls for Human Food). The bill also urges FDA to adopt an alternative option for its proposed rule on menu labeling.

The Senate is expected to bring its Agriculture, FDA spending bill to the floor this summer, as early as the week of June 16.

Child Nutrition Act Reauthorization

This summer, the Senate Agriculture Committee will begin its discussions on the Child Nutrition Act, which was last reauthorized in 2010 and signed into law as the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.  On Thursday, June 12, the Committee will hold its first hearing.  The Act expires in 2015.

 This Week’s Hearings

  • Thursday, June 12: The Senate Agriculture Committee will host its first in a series of hearings on the Child Nutrition Act to start the reauthorization process. The hearing is titled “A National Priority: The Importance of Child Nutrition Programs to our Nation’s Health, Economy and National Security.”

Regulatory Activity

National School Lunch Program Requirements

Today, the Obama Administration will continue to defend its implementation of nutrition standards for the National School Lunch Program in response to House Republican efforts to establish a waiver process through the House Agriculture Appropriations bill. The process allows schools to meet nutrition standards established prior to the school meals final rule issued in January 2012. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Sam Kass, Executive Director of Let’s Move! and the White House Senior Advisor on Nutrition Policy, have reserved time at the “Cooking Up Change” contest taking place in the Department of Education’s cafeteria, to talk with the media about the importance of maintaining the Department of Agriculture’s implemented school lunch requirements. The Administration will continue to publicly defend and support the requirements as the House looks to vote on its Agriculture Appropriations bill this week, as well as when the House begins its reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act.

The Senate Agriculture Appropriations bill does not include such a waiver process, but does recognize that some schools have concerns with meeting specific requirements, including complying with the 100 percent whole grain requirement that will become effective in July. The Senate bill directs the Department of Agriculture to consult with individual school districts that have concern with complying to work with both schools and relevant industry stakeholders.