Agriculture Secretary-designate Bob Bergland will move quickly to withdraw Ford administration food stamp cutback regulations which have been blocked in court by groups representing the poor, informed sources said yesterday.
Bergland said through an aide only that he planned to review the stamp issue. But others close to the situation said he was virtually certain to quash the Ford regulations - a step which also would end the legal battle touched off when the proposals were issued last May.
Withdrawal of the regulations would have no immediate impact on the 17 million Americans currently getting 15.3 billion in government food stamp subsidies annually to help pay their grocery bills. The rules never went into effect, because critics won a temporary injunction a few days before they were to take effect last June 1, and further legal action in the case is pending.
Spokesmen for the groups representing the poor said, however, that action to drop the regulations would demonstrate the Carter administraion's desire to curb food stamp abuses without drastic cuts in benefits to millions of needy people.
The next step in deciding on future food stamp reforms might then be up to Congress, which must act on the issue this year because current food stamp legislation expires Sept. 30. In 1976, following hot controversy over alleged abuses in the stamp program, the Senate passed a bill revising some program terms, but the House failed to act on a stiffer version developed after year-long wrangling in its Agriculture Committee.