Summer is the time to enjoy the bounty of the Midwest. Fresh Missouri peaches. Sweet Kansas corn. Juicy red tomatoes. But while we’re enjoying these fresh seasonal foods, it’s important to remember the policies that impact how and what we eat all year long.
The farm bill, which governs food and agriculture policy in the U.S., is currently moving through Congress, and we’re at a pivotal point in its progress this summer.
The omnibus bill that governs agriculture, nutrition, and conservation programs for five years was last passed in 2014 and was estimated to cost $489 billion (see pie chart). Harvesters and our network of pantries, kitchens, and shelters are especially concerned with the farm bill because it funds important federal nutrition programs that help food-insecure families, programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), and the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) program.
To give some perspective on the impact of SNAP in particular, consider that for every one meal Feeding America food banks provide, SNAP provides 12.
SNAP is vitally important to our region, providing food assistance to hundreds of thousands of people in Harvesters’ service area, nearly half of whom are children. If SNAP were cut, our charitable network simply could not make up the difference, no matter how efficient our pantries or well-meaning our volunteers. We must protect SNAP and the children, seniors, families, and veterans it helps.
Let your elected officials know that we need a farm bill that provides stability for farmers and families who are facing an unsure global marketplace, and a bill that invests in a food system that helps all Americans gain access to the healthy, affordable food they need to lead productive lives.
In June, the House passed its version of the farm bill and it included significant cuts to SNAP. The House bill, which passed on a party-line vote, would take food away from more than two million unemployed and underemployed workers and their families by making structural changes to the program and imposing stricter work requirements.
But in July, the Senate chose a bipartisan approach. Under the leadership of Agriculture Committee chairman and Kansas Senator Pat Roberts, the Senate overwhelmingly approved a farm bill that supports both farmers and families. While the Senate bill is not perfect, it makes common sense improvements to integrity and administration while protecting benefits and preserving the structure of the SNAP program.
Agriculture, nutrition, and health groups from across the country support the bipartisan approach taken by the Senate. There is broad agreement that the Senate’s bill will provide stability for both our farmers and our families, who are living in an unsure time of tariffs, trade wars, and a technological revolution that is changing the employment landscape for so many.
The two bills will now go to a conference committee whose job it is to create a compromise bill that can pass both chambers and be signed by the President.
Now is the time to reach out to your Senators and Representative and let them know that we need to pass a bipartisan farm bill that protects SNAP, TEFAP, and the other nutrition programs. You can contact your Senators and Representative by calling the Congressional Switchboard at 202.224.3121 or emailing through their websites.
Let your elected officials know that we need a farm bill the provides stability for farmers and families who are facing an unsure global marketplace, and a bill that invests in a food system that helps all Americans gain access to the healthy, affordable food they need to lead productive lives.