retail news in context, analysis with attitude

AgWeb reports that the 2018 budget proposal unveiled by the Trump administration this week "requests $17.9 billion for USDA. This represents a 21% decrease from 2017." However, AgWeb also notes that despite the budget cuts, "the Food Safety and Inspection service would be fully funded."

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), on the other hand, "would receive $6.2 billion ... approximately $400-500 million lower than assistance in 2015 and 2016."

The Washington Post writes that "the programs facing cuts fall under 'discretionary' spending, which includes food safety, rural development and conservation funding, research grants and international food aid. The cuts will not affect mandatory spending programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - SNAP, also known as 'food stamps' - and crop subsidies for farmers."

The Post also notes that "the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education Program, which distributes food aid to children living in poverty abroad, would be eliminated under the budget proposal, saving about $200 million. The document says the program - named after former U.S. senators George McGovern (D) and Bob Dole (R), who pushed for it - 'lacks evidence that it is being effectively implemented to reduce food insecurity' .... The program estimates that it helped feed more than 2 million people in developing countries in fiscal 2016, including in Cambodia, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, Kenya, Laos, Malawi and Tanzania."

Reuters reports that the cuts will also affect "some statistical and rural business services ... Farm groups warned that farmers and rural communities could suffer."

John Newton, director of market intelligence with the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), tells Reuters that the cuts are "a big concern because a lot of farmers and growers rely on USDA's statistical capabilities to make a lot of marketing and risk management decisions and planting decisions."
KC's View:
At least in the initial version, it would appear that the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is not being watered down or unfunded by the new administration ... which will be a little bit of a surprise to the companies that thought that they didn't have to adhere to its dictates because eventually they'd go away when the GOP got total control of the food safety vehicle.

That's not the case. And I, for one, am glad ... because I think that a system that creates greater transparency is a good one for everybody.

Full disclosure: In the interest of my own transparency, I need to point out here that ReposiTrak - which has created automated information management technology that allows companies to do the things necessary to comply with evolving FSMA regulations - is a longtime MNB sponsor, and I've produced a number of videos for them on the subject. Those videos - largely with senior food industry executives with a great deal of objectivity and knowledge - have convinced me about the seriousness of the situation and the need for retailers to get with the program.