Every five years, the U.S. Congress passes a bundle of legislation, commonly called the “Farm Bill” that sets national agriculture, nutrition, conservation, and forestry policy. It is also the major source of funding for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as the food stamp program) and other nutrition programs.
Nearly 49 million Americans — including more than one in five children — live in households that struggle to put food on the table. While PCG does not usually address federal legislation, we are deeply concerned about cuts to SNAP benefits, which significantly impact families living in poverty.
The last Farm Bill was passed in 2008, and expires September 30, 2012. If Congress doesn’t agree on new legislation by that date, lawmakers will have to approve a temporary extension of existing programs.
Here’s a brief update of the 2012 Farm Bill and ways that you can take action to protect anti-hunger funding.
On June 21, the Senate passed its version (S.3240), a five-year $500 billion farm bill, which included $4.5 billion in cuts to SNAP. The House Agriculture Committee approved its version on July 12. The House version (H.R. 6083) cuts $16.5 billion from SNAP. It is unclear when this legislation will reach the House floor.
If the deep House cuts are enacted, 2 to 3 million recipients would no longer receive the SNAP benefits they need to avoid hunger. The cuts would also reduce benefits by an average of $90 per month for an additional 500,000 low-income individuals. In addition, nearly 280,000 children would lose eligibility for free school meals when their families lose SNAP benefits.
Check out the Illinois Asset Building Group’s blog for more information on how this legislation impacts broad based categorical eligibility in Illinois.
Next week Congress will break for its five-week August recess. This is a great opportunity for you to talk with representatives in your district. There will likely be campaign events, town halls, and other community events where you will have the opportunity to talk with your U.S. Representative and let them know you oppose cuts to SNAP.
You can also take action now. Click here to send an e-mail to your U.S. Representative.
We will keep you updated as this legislation progresses.