Alliance to End Hunger Statement on Farm Bill Conference

August 15, 2018

WASHINGTON DC, August 15, 2018 – The House of Representatives and U.S. Senate recently announced conferees to negotiate and reconcile differences in the two chambers’ versions of the Farm Bill.  As the conferees meet, the Alliance to End Hunger urges the conference committee to prioritize the protection of policies and programs that assist poor and hungry people in the United States and around the world.

Overall, the Alliance is encouraged by the protections of – and even improvements to – a number of internationally-focused food security and development programs.  At the same time, the Alliance is deeply troubled by potential changes to domestic nutrition programs, specifically offered by the House version of the bill.

The importance of global food security and development are reaffirmed in both the House and Senate versions of the bill. Critical programs such as Food for Peace and the McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program are promoted. At the same time, positive provisions in various capacities within both bills push for increased flexibility through elimination of monetization requirements and increase local procurement options, encourage more robust monitoring and evaluation, and a strengthen a focus on community development. The conference should work to adopt these measures.

Among the troubling provisions are major reforms in the House bill to eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps), including stricter work requirements that ignore the unique circumstances many needy individuals face. Additionally, the elimination of broad based categorical eligibility adds burdens to eligible individuals and families to acquire benefits, as well as administrative costs to local benefit-providing offices.  Together, these proposals have the potential to throw millions of individuals and families off the critical support they need to feed themselves and their families.

The Senate bill is much more encouraging and friendly to programs that help poor and hungry people in the United States – largely maintaining SNAP as it was in the 2014 bill. There are also marked improvements to access for certain vulnerable populations, including the elderly, disabled, and native Americans. The Senate version supports work while simplifying and streamlining 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.

The Alliance to End Hunger urges the Farm Bill conference committee to reject the harmful provisions in the House bill and accept the Senate’s recognition of the importance of maintaining what is currently a strong and effective SNAP program.