On Thursday, the long-awaited House Farm Bill, entitled the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, was released by House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX). As expected, the House’s version of this vital piece of legislation, which typically is reauthorized every five years, took aim at cutting and restructuring the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly called food stamps.
Key changes include aggressive new work requirements imposed on low-income households, eligibility changes that would remove approximately 1 million Americans from the program, and funding for job training programs that cannot adequately meet the need of those they intend to benefit. Below is a well-written piece from the Washington Post that captures both sides of the debate:
Below is a statement from Foodlink Executive Director Julia Tedesco in response to the proposed legislation:
“The House Farm Bill released Thursday, which includes unnecessary and cruel changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, will strip vital food assistance away from millions of food-insecure individuals and families, including thousands in the Rochester region. SNAP is our country’s preeminent anti-hunger and anti-poverty program. For every meal that our nationwide network of food banks provides, SNAP provides 12 more. The restrictive work requirements proposed in this legislation will ironically harm countless working families, and reduce or eliminate assistance to vulnerable populations, such as seniors and those who experience significant barriers to employment.
In drafting this legislation without input from their Democratic colleagues, House Republicans also failed to learn from past mistakes regarding work-requirement policies for programs such as TANF, and chose to ignore active, ongoing studies to explore the efficacy of this very issue. Foodlink is supportive of increased financial support for job-training programs aimed at lifting people out of poverty. The funding allocated for states to implement these programs, however, falls well short of what is required to ensure people obtain meaningful job-training skills.
We are hopeful that the Senate will take a more dignified, research-based and bipartisan approach to this legislation, which has far-reaching implications on those who struggle daily to put food on the table. Rochester-area families deserve a Farm Bill that strengthens SNAP, and supports the tenet that food is a basic human right, and nobody in this country of abundance should go hungry.”
CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE: Urge them to oppose the House Farm Bill
Myriad anti-hunger advocates and organizations have condemned this proposal. Here is a sampling of reaction throughout the country, and links to their complete statements:
- Feeding America, the national network of food banks and the nation’s largest domestic anti-hunger relief organization.
“The inescapable reality is that SNAP cuts would have a boat-swamping effect on our network, and changes of this magnitude to an efficient and sound program would set the fight against hunger back in communities across our country.” – Matt Knott, President
- The Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), a leading anti-hunger nonprofit working toward eradicating hunger.
“The proposals in this bill would lead to greater hunger and poverty among all types of beneficiary families, including the working poor, as well as reduced economic growth and productivity in communities across the country.” – Jim Weill, President
- U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), the ranking member of the House Agriculture Nutrition Subcommittee.
“The bottom line is this farm bill will make hunger worse in America. This farm bill does not represent my values or the values of the people I represent. America’s farmers and the American people deserve so much better.”
- The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a policy and research institute.
“… in the more than 40 years that I have been working on issues related to low-income assistance programs and work, these are among the most poorly designed work-related proposals that I’ve seen at any time.” – Bob Greenstein, CBPP President
- MAZON, a national advocacy organization working to end hunger among people of all faiths and backgrounds
“U.S. House Committee on Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway and his Republican colleagues want to reclassify SNAP as a workforce development program in an ideologically driven bid to vilify the poor and kick people off the program.” – Abby J. Leibman, President & CEO