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Publication Date

March 1, 2009



Economic Linkages Between the WIC Program and the Farm Sector

By Hanson K, Oliveira V


The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is one of the central components of the Nation’s food and nutrition assistance programs. With Federal expenditures of $5.5 billion in fiscal 2007—or almost 10 percent of total Federal Government expenditures for food and nutrition assistance—WIC is the third largest food assistance program, trailing only the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly the Food Stamp Program) and the National School Lunch Program (USDA, 2008). WIC serves over 8 million participants per month, including almost half of all infants and a quarter of all children ages 1-4 in the United States.

WIC provides program participants with supplemental food, as well as nutrition education and referrals to health care and other social services. WIC is based on the premise that early intervention programs during critical times of growth and development in a child’s life can help prevent future medical and developmental problems. WIC also has economic ramifications that extend beyond program recipients. To the extent that WIC increases total food expenditures, WIC also affects the country’s farm sector. This report estimates the revenues that farmers derive from sales of WIC foods and the number of farm jobs needed to produce these foods. It updates the analysis reported in Hanson (2003) by taking into account the 2007 revisions in the types and amounts of food provided in the WIC food packages.

This research was funded by the USDA Economic Research Service.

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Date Added
January 18, 2018

Hanson K, Oliveira V (2009) Economic Linkages Between the WIC Program and the Farm Sector, EB-12. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. Available online: https://www.ers.usda.gov/webdocs/publications/42831/10672_eb12.pdf?v=41063