Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

SNAP Benefits Still in Jeopardy

Heather rude-turner

Heather Rude-Turner, 31, of northern Virginia, was once a single mom receiving WIC, SNAP, and EITC. Because of this, she said she can relate to some of the low-income families who bring their children to the childcare center where she works as a teacher. Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World.

House of Representatives Pulls Farm Bill Extension from Drought Relief Package

by Christine Meléndez Ashley

We had expected some floor action on food and farm policy in the House of Representatives on Tuesday through Speaker John Boehner’s drought relief proposal, which included a one-year extension of the farm bill. It was the first farm bill proposal we had seen coming out of this Congress that created a circle of protection around programs like the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps), which are vital to hungry and poor people.

While we have consistently maintained a preference for a full, five-year re-authorization of the farm bill, we were pleased to see no cuts to SNAP in that proposal.

Late Tuesday night, however, it became apparent there was not enough support to pass a drought relief bill with a one-year farm bill extension attached so they yanked it.  The House currently plans to vote on a drought relief package separately from the farm bill this afternoon.

We continue to urge Congress to pass a bill that protects and strengthens SNAP and international food aid.

So far, the House and Senate have both proposed harmful cuts to SNAP. The Senate bill cut $4.5 billion over ten years which would result in roughly 500,000 households losing $90 a month in SNAP benefits. The House bill cut even more from SNAP, $16.5 billion over ten years. These cuts could lead to 2-3 million people losing SNAP benefits and 280,000 kids losing free school meals—in addition to the 500,000 households losing $90 a month in benefits.

We were happy to see the Senate’s international food aid provisions and disappointed that the House did not include similar provisions in its bill.

In fact, the House bill cuts international food aid quality programs so deeply that it would effectively end international food aid programs that focus on nutritional deficiencies and targeted populations.

Judging from the history of the 2008 Farm Bill, we do not discount the possibility of short-term extensions of the current legislation. The farm debate could very well spill into the next Congress, as has happened in the past. Stay tuned for updates as the 2012 Farm Bill process continues to unfold.

Christine Meléndez Ashley is an analyst at Bread for the World.


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