Late last week, the U.S. Senate Agricultural Committee released their version of the 2018 Farm Bill. Much unlike the House version, this bill was created through a truly bipartisan process and contains provisions to help, not harm, those in need of food assistance. Not only does this bill protect the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), formally known as Food Stamps, it includes provisions that work to make the program even more efficient and fund efforts to help jobless workers find gainful employment.
Here’s just how different the two bills are:
- A partisan bill that excluded representatives from the entire bill process
- Will cut SNAP benefits by close to $20 billion over 10 year
- Adds unfunded mandates for states and strips flexibility in program administration
- Punishes more than 260,000 North Carolinians who are unable to find work
- Takes food assistance away from low-income families
- 130,000 low-income households with children will lose SNAP due to the elimination of categorical eligibility
- A bipartisan bill that includes compromises from both sides of the aisle
- Funds evidence-based research on supporting SNAP participants in gaining meaningful employment
- Encourages new public-private partnerships to support job training
- Eases administrative barriers for seniors and people with disabilities
- Supports administrative costs of the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
While the Senate bill is worthy to be celebrated, it isn’t safe from harmful changes. The bill will likely be marked up in the Senate Agricultural Committee this week and will quickly move to the Senate floor, where it could be voted on as early as next week. Between now and then, the bill could be subject to changes and amendments that undo many of the bipartisan provisions that help North Carolinians struggling with hunger.
It is also critical to note that while the House version of the Farm Bill was defeated last month because of its potential harmful impacts, it is possible that the same bill will be brought back to the House floor due to a procedural move by House leadership.
North Carolinians have made it very clear to their Congressional delegation that we deserve a Farm Bill that supports, not punishes, North Carolinians struggling with hunger. Let’s hope that our lawmakers do the right thing and pass a Farm Bill that protects and strengthens SNAP.
Brian Kennedy II is a Public Policy Fellow for the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the North Carolina Justice Center.