Utne Blogs > Politics

Montana Rolls Back WIC Restrictions on Organics (For Now)

by Staff


Tags: Montana WIC, organic WIC, WIC cutbacks,

Just a little over a week after putting organic foods on the chopping block, Montana’s Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) supplemental nutrition program announced Dec. 1 that it’s putting them back on the table, Richard Ecke reports in the Great Falls Tribune

Montana WIC announced that the financially stretched program was going to nominally exclude organic versions of familiar WIC program staples—such as milk, eggs, and cheese—from its approved foods list, the Missoula Independent reported on Nov. 22. But the state quickly reversed that position because of a lack of data demonstrating how much money the measure would actually save, according to Jo Ann Dotson, chief of the Family & Community Health Bureau, which administers the program. Dotson also noted that the state’s large number of organic farms played a role in the decision.

Whether organics will remain safe in the state’s program is up in the air. Plans are still moving forward to implement adjustments in March that will specify (like many other states already do) that WIC checks can only be used to purchase the least expensive brand available at the time of purchase—a policy that will effectively exclude many organic items.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which funds WIC programs, leaves the designation of approved foods to state agencies (though they tend to be similar from state to state) and keeps no central record of approved items. Dotson told Ecke that she believes Montana is the only state that allowed organics in the first place. If you know of a state with a different approach to organics, let us know about it in the comments section below.

Jason Ericson