BATON ROUGE – Congress is debating a comprehensive farm bill this summer, and the competing versions offered by the House and Senate could hardly be more different.
The House bill, which was approved earlier this month, would cut funding for food assistance by nearly $19 billion and invest that money in risky new work programs. The bill would make it harder for more than 2 million Americans to put food on the table by reducing or eliminating their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
The Senate proposal – which faces a floor vote this week – would protect and strengthen food assistance while making meaningful investments in workforce development programs for SNAP recipients. The bill allows more states to participate in SNAP employment and training pilot programs and dedicates money to programs that have a proven track record of success.
There is a long history of bipartisan commitment to protecting and strengthening SNAP, which has long been one of the nation’s most effective anti-hunger and poverty reduction programs. It delivers nutrition assistance primarily to children, veterans, people with disabilities and seniors. In 2015, SNAP lifted more than 8 million people above the poverty line – including nearly 4 million children. Between 2009 and 2012, SNAP kept 207,000 people out of poverty in Louisiana, including 100,000 children.
The Senate Agriculture Committee advanced its version of the bill by a bipartisan vote of 20 to 1. Congress must advance the Senate version, without harmful amendments, to protect food access for millions of Americans.
Read more on this issue from Davante Lewis on LBP’s Two Cents blog.