January 28, 2014

New Farm Bill Compromise a Mixed Bag

Washington, D.C. – Bread for the World commends its grassroots membership for efforts to protect SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly food stamps) and to improve international food aid in the Agricultural Act of 2014. Although it excludes some of the more drastic SNAP-cut and policy-change proposals, the bill includes a harmful cut to SNAP just months after the monthly allowances of SNAP beneficiaries were cut.   

“This bill is a mixed bag,” said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. “While there are some positive aspects, such as food-aid reform provisions, we are disappointed with the $8.6 billion cut to SNAP.  Any cut to SNAP is harmful to America’s struggling families, especially at this time when hunger in the U.S.A. is at an all-time high.”

The compromise bill, made public last night, is expected to be voted on by the House Wednesday, Jan. 29.

Bread members have been critical in advocating for much-needed food-aid reforms, as well as preventing deeper cuts to SNAP and other harmful policy changes affecting America’s struggling families. The compromise bill includes strong efforts to ensure that international food-assistance programs are more efficient and reach as many children and families as possible. This includes $80 million authorized for local and regional food procurement, increased cash flexibility for development programs, and efforts to improve the nutritional quality of U.S. food assistance.

Though less than the $40 billion cuts to SNAP proposed in 2013, the $8.6 billion cut included in the bill will have drastic implications for hundreds of thousands of SNAP households. While the bill will not kick current beneficiaries off the program, it will cut benefits for approximately 850,000 households.  

“Congress must not forget that many American families are still struggling to put food on the table—especially at a time when unemployment remains high and programs that support hungry and poor people are at risk of greater cuts,” Beckmann added. “Any cut to SNAP is harmful.”

Excluded in the compromise bill are harsh work requirements that would have kicked parents with young children off SNAP, as well as drug-testing requirements. It also excludes the lifetime SNAP benefit ban on ex-offenders, which would have had severe consequences on those most marginalized. Bread for the World strongly opposed these policy changes. Finally, the bill does not cut the Food for Peace Program—a major win for Bread membership.

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