Dairy producer and processors have joined forces to oppose proposed changes to USDA's Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program.



Dairy producer and processors have joined forces to oppose proposed changes to USDA's Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program. Both the National Milk Producers Federation and the International Dairy Foods Association expressed concern over proposed new rules that would reduce the amount of dairy products covered under the federal program.

"We're disappointed that budgetary constraints are leading USDA to a decision to cut the amount of dairy foods available to some of our neediest Americans," said NMPF President and CEO Jerry Kozak. "Even under the current program, many WIC participants do not get recommended levels of key nutrients that are easily included in the diet with milk and cheese products. Those levels would be further diminished under this proposal."

"In its 2005 Dietary Guidelines, USDA recognized the need for women and children to get more calcium, potassium and magnesium in their diets; this proposal moves us in the opposite direction," added IDFA President and CEO Connie Tipton. "There is a very real, negative nutritional effect that a reduction in dairy servings would have on program participants."

Dairy industry representatives said dairy products had fallen victim to a new emphasis on fruit, vegetables and whole grains. Both industry groups said they would rally their memberships to participate in USDA's comment period.

In response to a continuing tight sugar market, made worse by last year's Gulf region storms, USDA has increased the in-quota quantity of the tariff-rate quota for refined sugar for FY 2006 by 90,719 metric tons raw value. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said it is allocating a total of 26,681 metric tons raw value to Mexico. The remaining 64,038 metric tons raw value of the in-quota quantity may be supplied by any country on a first-come, first-served basis, subject to any other provision of law.

The certificate of quota eligibility is required for sugar entering under the tariff-rate quota for refined sugar that is the product of a country that has been allocated a share of the tariff-rate quota for refined sugar. The in-quota quantity of the tariff-rate quota for raw cane sugar for FY 2007 is 1,343,992 metric tons raw value, which is 226,797 metric tons raw value above the minimal amount to which the United States is committed under the World Trade Organization (WTO) Uruguay Round Agreements.