This is an excerpt reprinted with permission from The Hagstrom Report, a news service providing original national and international agricultural news to its subscribers.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said today that efforts to complete the bill to reauthorize child nutrition programs have come to an end.
Roberts released the following statement:
“Today is a day I hoped would not come,” Roberts said. “I’m very disappointed that the bipartisan, bicameral child nutrition reauthorization negotiations have come to an end for the 114th Congress.
“I’m proud of the commonsense reforms and the bipartisan strides we have made in the majority of the programs. However, we are nearing the end of this legislative calendar, and we have not been able to overcome minority objections and additionally those in the House.
“Though our committee passed a good, bipartisan bill — something no one said we could do — it wasn’t enough for some. I’m proud to say the Agriculture Committee conducted this reauthorization process in an open and transparent manner that listened to all stakeholders, including schoolchildren. We wrote a well-balanced bill that increased program integrity, flexibility, efficiency, and effectiveness.
“Since that bill was passed by our committee, we have been working to find an agreement with our colleagues in the House and the minority members of the Senate who halted the bill’s progress. In the end, we were not able to reach a bipartisan, bicameral compromise. It is unfortunate that certain parochial interests and the desire for issues rather than solutions were put ahead of the wellbeing of vulnerable and at-risk populations and the need for reform.
“When first considering this bill, I made it a priority to eat lunch with schoolchildren and to listen to school food service directors all across Kansas. They needed this bill.
“This is a lost opportunity to help hungry children and struggling schools. In addition, these programs will be vulnerable to attack without a reduction in the current error rates.
“As chairman of the committee, I remain committed to continuing to look for ways to increase integrity within the program and to provide flexibility to local school and summer meal program operators.”
The Hagstrom Report covers Congressional hearings, markups and press conferences in Washington D.C., as well as national nutrition news and farm meetings throughout the United States. Subscribers to The Hagstrom Report receive a digital newsletter daily while Congress is in session and at other times as events require and news happens.