Congress Closing in on New Farm Bill
Congress is preparing to move one step closer this week to passing a new five-year farm bill ahead of the current farm bill’s September 30 expiration deadline. House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway is planning to schedule a vote this week on a motion to move to a farm bill conference with the Senate. This is a key procedural step that allows conferees from the House and Senate to work through the differences in the House and Senate versions of the farm bill.
Weeks ago, the United States House of Representatives passed its version of the farm bill, which is the primary legislative vehicle funding vital farm programs and food assistance for the 1 in 11 Minnesotans struggling to keep enough food on the table. Unfortunately, this legislation includes several changes that will make it harder for food insecure Minnesotans – children, seniors, working families and adults experiencing mental health challenges – to access crucial SNAP benefits. According to a Second Harvest Heartland-Boston Consulting Group (BCG) study shared with Minnesota’s congressional delegation in Spring 2017, these SNAP changes will exacerbate pressures on an emergency food network of food banks, food shelves and meal programs already maxed out.
For this reason, Second Harvest Heartland opposes the House farm bill and will continue encouraging Minnesota’s congressional delegation – our eight representatives and two senators – to support the Senate version of the farm bill, which meets the needs of Minnesota’s farm and emergency food communities. The Senate is unlikely to support inclusion of the proposed SNAP changes in any farm bill, although it is unclear how major differences in SNAP funding and eligibility requirements will be worked out if and when a conference committee comes together.
We will continue to provide updates about the farm bill on our advocacy blog and Twitter. To learn more about Minnesotans’ hunger struggles and how SNAP is helping them make ends meet, check out our Pollen Midwest piece.