Alliance to End Hunger Statement on Senate Markup of Farm Bill

June 14, 2018

WASHINGTON DC, June 14, 2018 – The Alliance to End Hunger is encouraged by the Senate Agriculture Committee’s markup of the Farm Bill, and the strong bipartisan approach taken through the drafting of the bill. The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (Farm Bill) was released by Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) on June 11, and passed through markup in the Agriculture Committee by a vote of 20-1 on Wednesday. The Farm Bill addresses a multitude of food security-related programs and policies in the United States and around the world. Significantly, the Senate version of the Farm Bill disregards many of the harmful provisions from the House version that would detrimentally impact food insecure individuals and households in the United States.

“We are pleased by the real and positive implications this bill has for hungry people here in the United States and around the world, and we are also thankful for the display of transparency and bipartisanship preceding today’s markup.” stated Rebecca Middleton, Executive Director of the Alliance to End Hunger. “The Farm Bill is too important to the lives of hungry people everywhere to play politics with.  Senators had a job to do, and they did it.”

Within the Farm Bill presented by the Senate, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps) remains largely unchanged from the 2014 Farm Bill.  This contrasts with the House version of the bill, which significantly altered the program and added barriers for food insecure individuals to receive much-needed benefits.  Overall, there are marked improvements to access for certain vulnerable populations, including the elderly, disabled, and native Americans. Provisions within the Senate version simplify and streamline work-related provisions. Additional funding to pilot employment and training programs is provided, while also avoiding unnecessary employment requirements on those who are ill-suited for employment and training.  Other provisions would assist building food security in the United States by supporting the minimalization of food waste through federal nutrition programs, and allowing retailers to incentivize the purchasing of healthy foods through use of nutrition program benefits.

Global food security provisions are also supported and strengthened. The Senate Farm Bill reaffirms the importance of programs that bolster the United States’ leadership role in ending hunger internationally.  Additionally, there are provisions that help to strengthen some of these programs. For example, commodity monetization through Food for Peace is eliminated, adding efficiencies to the program and minimizing risks to local markets.  Through the McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program, funds have been set aside for local and regional procurement, which allows local communities to help support their school feeding programs, while also helping to sustain local economies.

“While we are heartened by the common-sense policies and programs in Senate’s Farm Bill, we understand that there is a tough road ahead of us,” says Middleton. “The Alliance to End Hunger looks forward to working with leaders on the Hill to push a strong, compassionate, and bipartisan Farm Bill across the finish line.”

 

Contact: Nathan Magrath, Manager of Communications and Outreach (nmagrath@alliancetoendhunger.org)