The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Darcey Rakestraw, 202-683-2467;

No Matter What Happens on Friday, Government Likely to Shut Down Food & Water Protections

New Food & Water Watch Brief Analyzes Impact of Budget Cuts for Food & Water; 60-second Advocacy Ad Begins Airing Tomorrow


Whether or not Congress shuts down this week lawmakers will likely cut food and water protections, which could increase foodborne illness, cut badly-needed federal money allocated to maintaining our aging water infrastructure, and hurt the economy, according to a national consumer organization.

Food & Water Watch used the original proposed budget in House Resolution 1 (H.R. 1) as a benchmark in its analysis issued today, showing that these cuts would possibly shut down meat plants, result in less food inspections, and increase the number of water main breaks and sewage spills. The organization is also running an advocacy ad on cable in Washington, D.C. and John Boehner's (R-OH) Congressional district on the issue starting tomorrow.

"These cuts are ideological in nature, and a close look shows that they are bad for not only our health, but also the economy," said Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch. "There will be more food in the system, but less people to inspect it. And many of our nation's water systems that were built in the early 20th century are reaching the end of their lifespan, and fixing them means jobs. Cutting food and water protections is not worth the risk to our health or our economy."

The $88 million in proposed cuts to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) would have an $11 billion economic impact due to the shutdown of meat and poultry plants, which would have ripple effects for local economies. And nearly $2 billion in cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency's State Revolving Funds (SRFs) for Clean Water and Drinking Water signify 54,000 jobs, approximately $6 billion lost from demand for products and services across the economy and $2.1 billion lost in household income.

The Food & Water Watch analysis of H.R. 1 also shows that:

  • Of the $100 billion that the House plan would cut from the total budget, nearly $2 billion (or two percent) would come from the EPA's State Revolving Funds (SRFs) for clean water and drinking water.
  • Cuts to the SRFs signify nearly $2 billion removed from states and municipal budgets and will translate into lost jobs and lost worker income. The $2 billion in cuts would lead to losing out on 54,000 jobs, as well as approximately $6 billion in lost demand for products and services across the economy and $2.1 billion in lost household income.
  • In 2009, 128 million gallons of bottled water was imported. However, the FDA's oversight of imported bottled water is limited. On average, according to a Government Accountability Office review released in 2009, less than 1 percent of imported bottled spring or mineral water and less than 4 percent of all imported bottled water were examined between 2004 and 2008, and even less was sampled for water quality testing.
  • The EPA estimates there are 40,000 sewage spills a year--the result of antiquated infrastructure that the SRFs help to maintain.

"Partisan bickering in Washington over the budget means tangible things to Americans' health and wellbeing, and cuts to food and water programs demonstrate that," said Hauter. "Government officials should do their jobs protecting the essential resources citizens need."

Food & Water Watch works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainable. So we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping shared resources under public control.

Food & Water Watch mobilizes regular people to build political power to move bold and uncompromised solutions to the most pressing food, water, and climate problems of our time. We work to protect people's health, communities, and democracy from the growing destructive power of the most powerful economic interests.

(202) 683-2500