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Advocacy Update: The Farm Bill

Farm Bill

Every 5 years, Congress reauthorizes the Farm Bill, which is the legislation that sets policy for agriculture and nutrition programs in the United States. The most recent Farm Bill was set to expire in September 2012 and while the House and Senate spent much of last summer debating a new bill, they came to an impasse. Instead of passing a new Farm Bill, Congress simply extended the existing legislation for another year.

So now Congress is once again in the midst of negotiating the Farm Bill. This legislation has serious implications for millions of low-income American families because the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which used to be referred to as Food Stamps, is funded through Title IV of the Farm Bill.

The Senate’s version of the Farm Bill, which passed out of the Agriculture Committee on May 14, contains a $4.1 billion cut to SNAP over the next 10 years. The House version of the bill, which also passed out of committee, contains a $20.1 billion cut to SNAP.

The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that, should the final version of the Farm Bill resemble the House’s bill, more than 2 million families will see a reduction or elimination of their SNAP benefits and 210,000 children will loose access to free meals in school. This comes at a time when 50 million Americans are facing hunger and when all SNAP beneficiaries will see a reduction in benefits in November 2013 when increases granted in the 2008 stimulus bill expire.

Good Shepherd Food Bank is very worried about the capacity of our hunger relief network to meet the need of Maine families facing hunger should significant cuts to SNAP pass in a new Farm Bill. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and work to strengthen our network to meet these upcoming challenges.

To learn more about the Food Bank’s Advocacy priorities or how you can help, please visit our Advocacy page.