“Status quo” is an expression that’s been oft heard since the election last week that left the Washington power structure unchanged in the White House as well as the two houses of Congress. While accurate in this context, it couldn’t be further than it is from the reality of the Beltway action anticipated in coming weeks to deal with the pending fiscal cliff.
The stakes are high for U.S. business in the outcome of pending negotiations with prospective economic growth and interest rate levels among the macro factors that could be affected. A more direct impact on business may stem from possible changes in the corporate tax rate, which could be under discussion, as well as the fate of certain tax breaks available to business.
Even more specifically for baking, the outlook for the Supplemental Food Nutrition Assistance Program looms as a major area of concern. Cuts to the program, which helps feed 46 million Americans, are considered likely. A Senate proposal earlier this year would cut $4.5 billion in funding for the program during the next 10 years. A version under consideration in the House would slash $16 billion during this period — a cut expected to remove one SNAP beneficiary in three.
The House is considering $179 billion in farm program cuts overall. Baking has long supported SNAP as a way to ensure even the neediest have access to cost effective, healthful foods like bread. Given that retail volume trends have been weak in the past two years, SNAP’s future takes on heightened importance.