The Farm Bill: 5 Things to Know and 1 to Do TODAY
- Update 6/21: The full Senate is expected to vote today (Thursday 6/21) on the Farm Bill, and a few additional amendments.
- Yesterday, the Senate voted on several amendments. Advocates are cheering the fact that several of the worst—including those in the "not good" column below—did not pass. Unfortunately the Gillibrand amendment to restore funding was also defeated, while the Nelson amendment, listed below, passed.
- Now is a great time to thank your Senators, using the zip code alert below!
As legislation moves in Congress, the “wonk” (or policy-speak) can make it almost impossible to understand exactly what’s at stake in our communities. Here, in plain language, are five amendments that could be added to the Senate’s version of The Farm Bill as early as today, and what they mean for families and children.
The Farm Bill, as you might have guessed, impacts more than just farmers—it sets policy for hunger relief programs for vulnerable children and families. The Senate is debating adding several amendments to the bill, which would affect nutrition programs for millions of children and families.
Some “Good” stuff:
- Child and youth advocates are supporting the Sen. Gillibrand (D-NY) amendment, which would restore 4.5 billion for SNAP and invest $500 million in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack program.
- Senator Nelson (D-NE) has an amendment, SA 2243, requiring states to reinvest SNAP performance bonuses in their SNAP programs.
Not So Good:
Amendments that would threaten the safety net include:
- From Senator Sessions (R-AL), Amendment SA 2174 would change eligibility requirements for SNAP—that is, only households receiving TANF cash assistance would be deemed eligible for SNAP without having to repeat all the eligibility documentation the household supplied for TANF. Now, families receiving non-cash TANF benefits such as child care or transportation can benefit from this streamlined establishment of SNAP eligibility. This restriction would cause 2 million to 3 million people to lose SNAP benefits, and would result in 280,000 children losing free school meals.
- Another amendment from Sen. Sessions, SA 2172, eliminates incentive payments for states that improve SNAP performance (only $48 million a year, but has been effective at improving SNAP participation rates, helping people in need who qualify for SNAP actually receive it).
- Senator Boozman (R-AR) wrote an amendment, SA 2360, that also eliminates incentive payments; in Fiscal Year 2013 only, it takes $43 million that would have been spent on these payments and uses it to fund emergency food aid for food banks (TEFAP). Feeding America, which provides food to food banks nationwide, opposes this amendment, saying "...these investments must not come at the expense of SNAP."
TAKE ACTION! Use the alert below to contact your Congressperson to keep the safety net strong for low-income families and children.
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