Republican Farm Bill Would Put Food Security Out of Reach for Millions of Americans
April 24, 2018
The House Republican Farm Bill would dismantle the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and make it even harder for low-income workers to support their families and put food on the table. This bill is just the latest Republican effort to marginalize low-income Americans instead of investing in rural communities and preventing American workers, children, and people with disabilities from going hungry.
The Republican Farm Bill would cut or reduce nutrition program benefits for more than two million Americans across the country, particularly impacting low-income working families with children.
Sue Sigler, executive director of the California Association of Food Banks in Oakland: “If I’m a working family and I go out and I improve my income, and my SNAP benefits get taken away, then I actually get poorer.”
Cleburne Times-Review: “Particularly hard hit by the proposals in Texas, according to critics: the 1 in 7 rural households and 1 in 6 small-town households who benefit from SNAP in the state.”
Victoria Jackson, Policy Matters Ohio: “SNAP kept 419,000 people Ohioans out of poverty, including 187,000 children. Children whose families received SNAP have greater high school completion rates and lower medical costs. SNAP is more than an anti-poverty program, it’s an investment in our future.”
Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Food Banks: “The new requirements include ‘some of the most punitive provisions I’ve ever seen in doing 30 years of doing this work. I’ve never seen anything as cruel as this piece of legislation,’ she said.”
New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty: “Up to 121,000 New Mexicans would face termination of SNAP, while tens of thousands of children and other family members would face reduced benefits for up to three years.”
KTUU Alaska: “[Alaska Food Coalition manager Sarra] Khlifi says the bill would be particularly disastrous in Alaska because of the state’s high unemployment rate and rural population. ‘We know that a lot of Alaskans would be kicked off the program, not because they’re not working, but because of the lag between times to turn paperwork. A lot of times the notification process can be flawed since a lot of it is not electronic, so we’re just concerned that people would fall off the program who don’t fall into this category of not working.’”
Lindsey Haynes-Maslow, N.C. State University: “SNAP is vital to our state’s economy because the money can go toward farmers and food retailers, such as grocery stores, convenience stores, and farmers’ markets. In 2010, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated that for every $1 dollar spent on SNAP benefits, $1.79 was reinvested into the economy. SNAP provided more than $2.2 billion in benefits to approximately 1.5 million North Carolinians in 2016.”
The Republican Farm Bill would impose drastic, unproven requirements to limit access to SNAP benefits, but research suggests that these requirements would create burdensome new demands while doing little to increase employment.
Star-Tribune Editorial: “If House Republicans want to offer a ‘springboard out of poverty,’ as House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway so sunnily put it, they should help with the struggles recipients face, not penalize them for poverty or poor health. Lifting barriers is productive and compassionate. Kicking people off food assistance will only propel them into deeper poverty and greater hunger.”
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: “Moreover, experience suggests the proposed work requirements would leave substantial numbers of low-income people with various barriers to employment — such as very limited skills or mental health issues like depression — with neither earnings nor food assistance.”
NPR: “Another access issue in rural areas comes down to the lack of public transportation, making it difficult to get to a state office or to a job to fulfill the SNAP work requirements.”
Politico: “House Republicans have proposed a massive expansion of an obscure job training program as a way to get millions of people off of food stamps — notching a welfare reform win as part of the farm bill. There’s just one problem: There’s little evidence the training program actually works, let alone that it can be scaled up quickly to enroll hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of new participants.”
Republicans’ SNAP cuts would put a strain on food banks and pantries that are already struggling to keep up with the need for access to healthy food.
Executive director of the SF-Marin Food Bank, Paul Ash: These cuts will mean that people will go hungry… This is a partisan bill that seems to be trying to save money at all costs, even at the risk of taking money from an effective program.’”
Good Shepherd Food Bank’s John Bennett: “Here in Maine, Good Shepherd Food Bank and our network of 400 partner organizations across the state are doing more than ever before with the vast majority of our support coming from private charitable dollars. If even more of the need is shifted onto us, there is no way we will be able to keep up.”
Alameda County Community Food Bank’s Stephen Knight: “It’s outrageous to make this kind of proposal just a few short months after giving massive tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations… We need to strengthen this program, not to cut it.”