53 posts categorized "Farm Bill"
On June 20, 2013, the House of Representatives brought a farm bill to the floor for a vote, but failed to pass the legislation. This was the first time that a farm bill has ever failed in the House. The bill included more than $20 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) and $2.5 billion in cuts to international food aid.
"The fact that we were able to speak out and the bill failed is a victory for hungry people in the United States and around the world," says Bread for the World policy analyst Christine Ashley in the short video above. "It sends a message to Congress that these kinds of cuts can’t stand."
"If we really want to end hunger, then you’ve also got to weigh in on laws and structures that affect hungry people," says Bread for the World President David Beckmann in the clip. "The farm bill is a clear example of this."
Stay tuned to the Bread Blog for updates and action alerts related to the farm bill.
Bread for the World advocates during a workshop at the 2013 National Gathering, held June 8-11 in Washington, D.C.
Advocacy requires patience and, like the exodus from Egypt, the exodus from hunger takes struggle, perseverance, prayer, and faith. Our biblical tradition has aptly prepared Christian anti-hunger advocates for this work. Today, faithful advocacy paid off!
With two days of heated debate on the House floor, it was not clear that the chamber’s farm bill—which included $20.5 billion in cuts to SNAP (formerly food stamps) and $2.5 billion in cuts to food aid—would fail. Two amendments that would have restored the funding failed yesterday and several harmful proposals that would have increased hunger passed. But there was always hope.
Like David picking up the rock as he faced impossible odds against Goliath, anti-hunger advocates picked up phones, sent emails, and used social media to send the same powerful message to Congress: everyone deserves a place at the table.
Bread for the World strongly urged a “no” vote on any farm bill that included cuts to programs that help hungry and poor people. The House farm bill failed passage today, with a final vote of 195 yays and 234 nays. (To see how your representative voted, click here).
This is a great victory, but there is still much work to be done. As congressional leaders decide how to move forward, we will make sure that our members are equipped with the information they need in order to remain vigilant. Some options for moving forward include sending the House farm bill back to the agriculture committee for changes, another short- or long-term extension of the farm bill (the bill we are functioning under expires Sept. 30), or leadership may choose to vote on the Senate bill.
Beyond the farm bill, work on immigration, the budget, and replacing sequestration will take center stage. The fearless and faithful advocacy it takes to say “no” in the face of those who may seem bigger and stronger will be needed again and again.
Like David who faced the Philistine not with a sword, but with faith and courage, faithful advocates will again be challenged, but we can continue to overcome great obstacles. Thank you to everyone who used his or her voice and made a difference today.
Your support and involvement made it possible for Bread for the World to fight cuts to SNAP and food aid. You can help keep that momentum going by joining our summer effort to help hungry people and making a gift to Bread.
Updated, 6:15 a.m., 11:34 a.m., 1:23 p.m. 6/20/13
Debate on the House farm bill began today, with a final vote expected in the next week. The representatives will consider as many as 103 amendments, some of which could increase hunger, and others that would help hungry people. Below is a rundown of some of the key amendments Bread for the World will be closely monitoring. Ultimately, we are pushing for “no” votes on any final legislation that cuts SNAP (formerly food stamps) or food aid. Even if you have already done so, please call your representative at 1-800-326-4941 or send an email today.
The SNAP cuts included in the House bill could kick at least 2 million people off of the program, reduce benefits for more than 800,000 families, and leave 210,000 children without free school meals. Cuts to food aid programs could cost lives and hinder the ability of the United States to effectively reach millions of people in need. These cuts must not stand.
Amendments Bread for the World Supports
- McGovern Amendment (No.1): Restores the $20.5 billion in SNAP cuts included in the House bill by cutting commodity programs and crop insurance payments. Bread for the World strongly supports. Amendment No. 1 to restore SNAP funding failed in a recorded vote of 188 yays and 234 nays. To see how your representative voted, click here.
- Royce-Engel Amendment (No. 15): Includes common-sense reforms providing much needed flexibility in the Food for Peace program. Will help the United States reach an additional 4 million disaster victims through overseas food assistance without spending any additional U.S. taxpayer dollars. Bread for the World strongly supports. Amendment No. 15 to reform food aid narrowly failed in a recorded vote of 203 yays and 220 nays. To see how your representative voted, click here.
- Duckworth Amendment (No. 68): Requires USDA to conduct a study and report back to Congress its findings on the impact of SNAP cuts on demand for charitable food services. Amendment No. 68 adopted in a bloc-voice vote.
Amendments Bread for the World Opposes
A number of harmful amendments have been submitted that would reduce benefits or make access to the SNAP program more difficult for qualifying participants.
- Conaway Amendment (No.23): Creates a provision in the SNAP program that would reduce benefits to qualifying participants by 10 percent if Congress fails to pass a farm bill. Amendment No. 23 rejected by voice vote, and withdrawn from recorded vote by Rep. Conaway.
- Kingston, Westmoreland, Austin, and Scott Amendment (No. 24): Repeals the SNAP benefit boost enacted in 2009 as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. This benefit boost is set to expire in November.
- Huelskamp, Goodlatte, Neugebauer, Jordon, DeSantis, Stewart, and Chris Amendment(No. 101): Cuts SNAP funding by $31 billion and also eliminates programs such as SNAP nutrition education and job training, which help participants transition out of poverty. Although the SNAP program has existing work requirements, this amendment imposes additional requirements, making it more difficult for qualifying participants to access the safety-net program when they need it. Amendment 101 adopted in a vote of 175 yays and 250 nays.
- Southerland, Westmoreland, Kingston, Bentivolio, and Schweikert Amendment (No. 102): Creates a state option that allow states to change their SNAP work requirements to match stricter federal welfare work requirements and financially incentivizes states to reduce SNAP caseload by providing states funding based on how much they reduce caseload. Amendment 102 failed in a vote of 227 yays and 198 nays.
- Reed Amendment (No.103): Ex-offenders who have committed a set of specific violent crimes would be permanently banned from ever receiving SNAP. Amendment No. 103 adopted in a bloc-voice vote.
We will update this blog post as each amendment receives a vote over the next few days.
We expect two amendments to be considered and voted on today that Bread for the World strongly supports. Please urge your representative to
1. Vote against any cuts to SNAP and vote for Rep. McGovern’s amendment to restore SNAP funding. The SNAP cuts included in the bill could kick at least 2 million people off of the program, reduce benefits for more than 800,000 families, and leave 210,000 children without free school meals.
2. Oppose cuts to food aid and vote for the bipartisan Royce-Engel amendment to make food aid more efficient. The amendment will feed at least 4 million more people at no additional cost to taxpayers by making the food aid system more flexible and efficient.
By Eric Mitchell
This week, the House of Representatives is considering a farm bill that includes more than $20 billion in cuts to SNAP (formerly food stamps) and $2.5 billion in cuts to international food aid programs. Numerous harmful amendments submitted to the bill threaten to cut SNAP further or make dangerous changes to the way the program works.
Your representative needs to hear from you today.
The SNAP cuts included in the bill could kick at least 2 million people off of the program, reduce benefits for more than 800,000 families, and leave 210,000 children without free school meals. Cuts to food aid programs could cost lives and hinder the ability of the United States to effectively reach millions of people in need. These cuts must not stand.
Call your representative today and urge him or her to vote against a farm bill that includes cuts to SNAP or international food aid. Tell your representative that you
- Oppose any cuts to SNAP and support efforts to restore funding to the program, and
- Oppose cuts to food aid and support efforts to make the program more efficient.
Thank you for continuing to use your voice to help ensure a place at the table for all God’s people.
Eric Mitchell is Bread for the World's director of government relations.
By Robin Stephenson
This week the Senate passed its version of the farm bill, with 66 “yes” votes and 27 “no” votes. The Senate version included $4.1 billion in cuts to SNAP, the program that serves as our nation’s first line of defense against hunger. As high rates of unemployment and underemployment and a tough economic climate persist, this safety-net program has been a godsend for those struggling to make ends meet. Now is not the time to cut a program that is reducing hunger in America.
Next week, the House of Representatives is expected to begin voting on its version of the farm bill, which includes even more drastic cuts to the domestic nutrition program than the Senate’s bill: SNAP would be slashed by $20.5 billion under the House proposal. If these huge cuts become law, millions of families would see a reduction in their nutrition assistance – vulnerable populations such as the elderly and children would be hit especially hard. Churches and charities, for all they do, cannot absorb such an increase in need.
It is critical that Bread members speak out now. Even if you have already done so, contact your representative again. House members must hear repeatedly from constituents that a farm bill with any cuts to SNAP should be met with a “no” vote, and such extreme cuts need to be met with extreme outrage.
Silence is approval, but a loud response from voters calling for protection of programs for hungry and poor people can have a long-term effect. “If you defeat the SNAP cuts in the farm bill, they’ll start taking anti-hunger advocacy seriously,” says Eric Mitchell, Bread for the World’s director of government relations. “When it comes to the farm bill,” he explains, “many members of Congress cater to all the different special interests; it‘s time they take nutrition seriously.”
Coalition partners are gearing up for a coordinated call-in day on Tuesday, June 18. Early next week, expect to receive an action alert from Bread for the World asking you to contact Congress, even if you called or emailed as recently as last week. “This is a critical time,” says Mitchell.
Mitchell, along with the government relations team and the organizing department, will give an update on the farm bill and other key issues during next Tuesday’s national grassroots conference call and webinar, so be sure to register for this session. SNAP, food aid, and the latest news on the sequester will be discussed.
Bread for the World opposes any cuts to SNAP in the farm bill and is asking members of Congress to vote “no” if the bill comes to the floor. If the House version passes, then the House and Senate bills enter conference, meaning they come up with a compromise between the two bills, which would then be voted on by both chambers. Going into conference with $20.5 billion in SNAP cuts as a starting point would make it extremely difficult to come to a compromise that would protect programs that help hungry and poor people.
If the House version of the farm bill is defeated on the floor, some options for moving forward might include sending the draft back to the agriculture committee for changes, another short- or long-term extension of the farm bill, or leadership may choose to vote on the Senate bill.
But no matter what is decided, Bread for the World will continue to spread the message that SNAP works and should not be cut in any final piece of farm bill legislation.
Robin Stephenson is national social media lead and senior regional organizer, western hub, at Bread for the World.
Photo: Lunch service at a soup kitchen. (Courtesy of Participant Media)
You need food pantries, and you need SNAP, and you need school lunch programs. When you cut one, you’re cutting the whole net —Community FoodBank of New Jersey's Diane Riley
Think Progress recently ran a piece on the reaction of charities around the country to the House Agriculture Committee's farm bill, which would slash more than $20 billion from the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps). In short, the people who carry out the important work of food banks, food pantries, and soup kitchens are nervous about potential cuts.
“Given how long the recession lasted and the alarming rates of poverty, SNAP for many families has become not just a safety net, but a way of surviving,” said Mid-Ohio Foodbank vice president of public affairs, Marilyn Tomasi, in an article cited by Think Progress.
In a recent op-ed piece, Feeding America president and CEO Bob Aiken said that the House farm bill cuts, if enacted, would amount to more than 8 billion lost meals for struggling families, by his organization's estimation.
"If divided evenly across Feeding America’s national network of food banks, every food bank would need to provide an additional 4 million meals each year for the next ten years, and that is just not possible," Aiken wrote. "There is no way that charity would be able to make up the difference. We are already stretched thin meeting sustained high need in the wake of the recession. We simply do not have the resources to prevent hunger for the millions of people who would be impacted by these cuts—the low-income working families, seniors, children, and individuals struggling to get by."
The idea that charities will make up for cuts to SNAP and other federal nutrition programs is popular—and erroneous. Charities, food banks, food pantries provide an invaluable service, but they can't address hunger alone. One in 24 bags of food assistance comes from charitable organizations; federal nutrition programs, such as SNAP, provide the rest.
In the documentary A Place at the Table, Pastor Bob Wilson, one of the film's subjects, talks about how the economic downturn in the United States has stretches his Colorado church's food pantry to its limits (This weekend, Pastor Bob and his wife Michaelene, will participate in a panel at Bread for the World's National Gathering to talk about their food pantry, and the increasing demand in their community).
"Every Wednesday we go down and get a trailer full of food from Food Bank of the Rockies," Wilson said in the film. "The problem that we run into in small towns is that the income level has gone down, the jobs are minimal, the second and third generation people are having to leave the area to find work.
"Ten years ago or so when we started this, my wife and I had purchased an old Suburban and I remember driving into the food bank and being excited about backing up and filling that Suburban with 10 to 15 boxes of food and thinking we were really making a difference in our community," Wilson continued. "And after a year and a half we bought a little single axel trailer that we could put two pallets of food in and we thought we had really arrived, that we could certainly meet the needs of the community with two pallets of food. And four years ago a gentleman from our church donated this trailer and now we’re doing four pallets twice a week and it’s amazing how the need has increased over the 10 years."
Charities can't, and shouldn’t have to, do it alone—government must do its part. Contact your members of Congress and tell them to protect SNAP and other vital food assistance programs from devastating cuts.
A regular, non-comprehensive roundup of current news links on hunger and poverty issues from around the Web.
"From the Mouths of Babes," by Paul Krugman, New York Times (op-ed). "[A]s millions of workers lost their jobs through no fault of their own, many families turned to food stamps to help them get by—and while food aid is no substitute for a good job, it did significantly mitigate their misery. Food stamps were especially helpful to children who would otherwise be living in extreme poverty, defined as an income less than half the official poverty line."
"Off food stamps and employed — with taxpayers’ help," by Kyung M. Song, Seattle Times. "Dede O’Loughlin’s mother dropped out of high school and got by on food stamps. Then O’Loughlin herself became that mother to her three sons. O’Loughlin, a 40-year-old single parent from North Seattle, wanted to break the pattern for her children. And thanks to that very food-stamp program, she likely will."
"Poverty finds the suburbs," by Sarah Laskow, Boston Globe. "Moving to the suburbs used to mean having made it—having earned the house, the car, the lawn—and being set for the long haul. But over the past decades, the suburbs have changed. Dream houses have fallen into disrepair; dream jobs have disappeared.""Poverty as a Childhood Disease," by Perri Klass, M.D., New York Times' Well blog. "At the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies last week, there was a new call for pediatricians to address childhood poverty as a national problem, rather than wrestling with its consequences case by case in the exam room. Poverty damages children’s dispositions and blunts their brains. We’ve seen articles about the language deficit in poorer homes and the gaps in school achievement. These remind us that...poverty in this country is now likely to define many children’s life trajectories in the harshest terms: poor academic achievement, high dropout rates, and health problems from obesity and diabetes to heart disease, substance abuse and mental illness."
Melissa Harris-Perry, who has used her MSNBC show as a platform to bring attention to issues of hunger and poverty in America, devoted her May 26 "Taking Food off the Table" segment to the farm bill and SNAP. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), former Virginia Governor Doug Wilder, PBS NewsHour Politics Editor Christina Bellantoni, Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) President Jim Weill, and A Place at the Table co-director Lori Silverbush discussed the $21 billion in SNAP cuts in the House Agriculture Committee's farm bill.
McGovern, Silverbush, and others spoke against slashing the program, and also addressed some common misconceptions about SNAP.
"Millions and millions of people on SNAP work for a living, work full-time, but make so little that they still qualify," McGovern said. "This is not a get rich quick scheme, this is hard living."
Silverbush said that the program has expanded to address hunger, as it is meant to do. "It's a terrible economy and the food stamp program was designed to grow when the economy shrinks, and it's doing what it was designed to do," she said. "People who are trying to cut it like to point to that as if it's some example of 'it's bloated, it's full of waste'—truthfully, it's only so big because the need is so big. And as the economy recovers, food stamps are going to go down as well."
The panel also discussed SNAP's extremely low fraud levels and the need to strengthen, rather than cut, the vital program.
"Most people, I don't care what their political persuasion is, don't want to see the burden on poor people get worse," said McGovern. Watch the entire segment below.
Bread for the World continues to fight these cuts as the bill goes to the floor of the House. Call your representative today at 1-800-326-4941 or send an email now, and tell him or her to protect, not cut, SNAP.
By David Beckmann
The Senate will vote on a farm bill this week. SNAP (formerly called food stamps) and international food aid programs are once again on the chopping block.
Last week, the Senate Agriculture Committee passed a farm bill that takes some necessary steps towards food aid reform. Unfortunately, it also included a $4.1 billion cut to SNAP over the next ten years. If these cuts go into effect, at least 400,000 SNAP households will lose about $90 a month in benefits.
There's still time to act! your U.S. senators need to hear from you. Call them today at 1-800-326-4941 and urge them to take the following actions:
- Support Senator Gillibrand’s efforts to restore cuts to SNAP.
- Vote against any amendments that cut SNAP. This vital program keeps food on the table for millions of families even as poverty, unemployment, and underemployment remain high.
- Support efforts to make international food aid more efficient and targeted to the nutritional needs of women and children in the thousand-day window from pregnancy to age 2.
Cuts to SNAP and food aid will leave no place at the table for millions of our brothers and sisters. Don’t delay. Call your U.S. senators at 1-800-326-4941 today!
David Beckmann is president of Bread for the World.
House Committee on Agriculture Passes Farm Bill with a $21 Billion Cut to SNAP: How the Members Voted
Bread for the World expressed outrage over the severe cuts to anti-hunger programs in a joint statement with Feeding America, United Way, and Catholic Relief Services.
The bill, which now goes to House leadership to be scheduled for a floor vote, would create hardship for families in the Unites States and have deadly consequences for families abroad. If enacted, it would:
- Remove 2 million SNAP recipients from the program
- Reduce SNAP benefits (by about $90 each month) for 850,000 households
- End free school meals for 210,000 children.
- Cut international food aid by $2.5 billion over 5 years—those cuts would include a 78 percent reduction in funding for improving the nutritional quality of food aid
During a very heated debate on the nutrition portion of the bill—a debate that included comments about churches taking primary responsibility for the care of hungry and poor people—Rep. Jim McGovern introduced an amendment to restore all cuts to the SNAP program. By a roll call vote, the amendment failed 17-27.
Bread for the World will continue to fight these cuts as the bill goes to the floor of the House. Domestic nutrition programs such as SNAP are the first line of defense against hunger and have proven effective in decreasing food insecurity during a weakened economy.
Members of the House Committee on Agriculture who voted to pass a bill with a $21 billion cut to the SNAP program. If your representative is on this list, we encourage you to call your member’s office or tag him or her in a tweet and let them know you are disappointed.
Members of the House Committee on Agriculture who voted to protect the programs for poor and hungry people that provide a place at the table for all. If your representative is on this list, we encourage you to call your member’s office or tag him or her in a tweet and thank them.