While I am glad Congress was able to come together and pass the Farm Bill, I am concerned that the final legislation continues many of the agricultural practices and programs that favor large-scale producers, while stripping the much-needed Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to many Americans living in poverty across the country.
The cuts to SNAP benefits will affect one in seven Americans, or the 47 million people who currently participate in the program.
The bill cuts food stamps by about $8 billion over ten years, and will most significantly impact those Americans in desperate need of help to put food on their families’ tables and contribute to the American economy.
House Republicans initially wanted to cut SNAP benefits by $40 billion over ten years. While I am relieved that the final version only cuts food stamps by 20% of that amount, hungry Americans still cannot afford to lose $8 billion in benefits.
Republicans originally sought to use the farm subsidy bill as a method of cutting government spending and completely ending subsidies. The bill is eliminating a direct payment subsidy worth nearly $5 billion a year which is paid to farmers whether they farm or not.
As a method of counteracting some of this loss of payments, the bill will ensure crop insurance is cheaper and continue to pay out benefits but at lower levels. Furthermore, new subsidies would require farmers to incur losses before they could collect from the federal government.
Ultimately, we need to be providing more food assistance to hungry Americans, not less.
That’s why I’m proud to have passed a bill this past session, HB 296/SB 376, which expands access to school meals for children in poverty-stricken areas of Texas. Our children need healthy food to grow strong and succeed academically, and hard-working Texans need nutritious food to be able to contribute to our economy.