Statement About the Special Milk Program Authorization
ELEVEN DAYS ago, the Congress sent to me H.R. 5554, which would extend the authorization for the special milk program. I have not signed this measure. But, today--without my signature--it becomes law.
H.R. 5554 authorizes appropriations of $120 million in fiscal year 1971 and subsequent years. The administration's 1971 budget did not include funds for this program. In a special message to the Congress February 26, 1970, I urged that this and similar lower-priority Federal subsidy programs be discontinued. As I said then, no time-honored program is sacrosanct if it cannot be justified on the grounds of high priority.
The funds authorized in H.R. 5554 subsidize the purchase of milk, in the great majority of cases subsidizing families able to pay the full cost. Less than 10 percent of the milk served goes to children from poverty families.
I am mindful of the vital importance of milk for all of our schoolchildren and also of the genuine need to keep our dairy industry strong. But I firmly believe the major portion of the funds authorized in this bill should have been authorized for more effective nutritional programs to benefit children from poor families and on a basis which includes milk as part of the balanced, nutritious school lunch program.
I have already acted on this conviction. On May 14, 1970, I signed into law H.R. 515 which improved the National School Lunch Act and the Child Nutrition Act. The effect of this legislation is to assure that every child from a family whose income falls below the poverty line will receive a free or reduced-price lunch. These lunches include milk.
To properly fund 'this legislation, a budget amendment of $217 million additional is being transmitted to the Congress today for the school lunch and child nutrition programs in fiscal 1971, bringing the total Federal funding for these programs to $900 million. That amount is by no means the whole story of this administration's determined efforts to eliminate hunger and malnutrition in America. Total requests for food assistance programs in fiscal '71 exceed $2.5 billion, more than twice the amount expended on these programs 2 years ago and $900 million more than I requested and obtained last year.
Thus there should be no doubt about this administration's commitment to the fight against hunger. If this effort is to be successful, it must be carried on in a way that is clearly recognized as responsible. We must avoid wasting the taxpayers' money on overlapping and unnecessary programs. Therefore, it should be clearly understood that whatever funds I use from this program I intend to use for the school lunch and child nutrition and milk programs for children from poverty families, and not for those who are in no need of such a subsidy. I have allowed this measure to become law with these objectives in view.
In its future actions on spending, I urge the Congress to join me in the constant and crucial effort to hold down Federal spending and prevent another wave of inflation.
Note: The statement was released at San Clemente, Calif.
As enacted, H.R. 5554 is Public Law 91-295 (84 Stat. 336).
Richard Nixon, Statement About the Special Milk Program Authorization Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/239967