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September 18th, 2013

Farm Bill Update: SNAP on the Chopping Block

Food Policy Director Patty LoveraBy Patty Lovera

To pick up where we left off in July, this Farm Bill process has been anything but typical. The Senate has passed its Farm Bill, but since the House decided to split its bill in half and only pass the farm program portion, it’s time for them to now deal with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps). Because the House didn’t pass the entire Farm Bill (farm policy and nutrition programs), House leadership refused to start the process for the conference committee to reconcile the Senate and House farm policy portions of the Farm Bill, even though both sides had completed their versions of the farm programs. As Politico’s David Rogers aptly observed, this Farm Bill process has turned into Washington’s version of the Hunger Games.

Millions of Americans lost their savings, jobs and homes due to the 2008 financial crisis, and many of these families are still struggling to make ends meet. The USDA estimates that one in seven Americans are hungry because of persistent poverty. However SNAP has offered a vital safety net to help families keep food on the table.

But later this week (probably Thursday), the House of Representatives will vote on a bill that would drastically slash this safety net. The half of the Farm Bill they left behind earlier this summer is now called H.R. 3102, the Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act of 2013, and it threatens to cut $40 billion from SNAP. This would kick an estimated 3 million vulnerable people off the program by making it harder for them to qualify for benefits, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Understandably, the bill is highly controversial. Even if it does pass the House, such drastic cuts to nutrition funding likely won’t make it past the Senate or the president. What happens from there is unclear. The current Farm Bill, which is an extension from the fiscal cliff negotiations, expires at the end of September. Coincidentally, the government will also shut down on Oct. 1 unless Congress passes a continuing resolution to keep federal government funded. The Farm Bill could be extended yet again as part of that process. Or they could let it expire again. Either way, expect a lot more procrastination and drama.  

But this week, the most critical thing to do is make sure that the House gets the message that such draconian cuts to a vital food safety program is unacceptable. Poverty remains persistently high and millions of Americans are still unable to find work. H.R. 3102 will only hurt those who are already struggling to survive and we cannot allow it to pass. 

 Act NOW to stop the Republican attack on SNAP. 

9 Comments on Farm Bill Update: SNAP on the Chopping Block

  1. Hilde says:

    Please do not destroy snap benefits.

  2. joah says:

    im sorry I cant help you, too many snap people are giving their cards to drug dealers……….to pay for their drugs………its right to make them pass drug tests before they are subsidized

  3. Paul says:

    First Off / How many people receiving snap benefits this past summer planted a garden anywhere they could? This should be required before receiving any government aid. By planting a garden these people would be getting some very needed exercise / fresh air/ and learn how nature works around them/be self sufficient / besides / Our Founding Fathers of this country all raised their own food. Nothing has really changed! Grow Food Not Lawns Stop the chemical spraying on lawns and plant a garden. I had an information booth at 3 county fairs this past summer ( info on planting a garden) (composting) (harvesting and storing produce)and didn’t have but only 2 interested people and I know they were not receiving snap.

  4. Paul says:

    I plant and harvest small plots of wheat, rye, and oats. You all should do the same! I have plenty to eat and I work full time and part time at other ventures. 60% of your health is working and staying active. Oh did forget to mention I have ran 12 5ks and 1 triathlon this summer and at least 3 more 5ks to go. Grow Food Not Lawns.

  5. Paul says:

    The same people voting on this are letting this country go broke?

  6. Bob says:

    Sorry Joah, but this isn’t about drug testing. This is about cutting the program’s budget. 72% of SNAP recipients are working families with children. The people who are working poor are the folks that will get cut.

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