News & Insights


Mixed Messages from Dueling Farm Bill Proposals

The Farm Bill is one of the most significant pieces of legislation for both domestic and international food security. On the domestic front, the bill authorizes the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps) and The Emergency Food Assistance Program, which provides resources to food banks nationwide. Globally, the Farm Bill authorizes the Food for Peace emergency and development programs and the McGovern-Dole Food for Education program, which have been instrumental in responding to the ongoing global food crisis. The Farm Bill is also well overdue for renewal, with conflicting visions for the future of food and nutrition policy.

Domestic Food and Nutrition Security:

Charwoman Debbie Stabenow of the Senate Agriculture Committee has announced a framework that prioritizes investments in nutrition programs, including updating the Thrifty Food Plan for SNAP to align with diets and budgets of beneficiaries of the program. Further proposals include removing the ban on SNAP for convicted felons who have served their time in the justice system – a proposal that was also included in the House version led by Chairman GT Thompson – as well as expanding SNAP to U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico, and allowing tribal nations easier access to nutrition programs.

Ranking Member Boozman’s work to increase access to fruits and vegetables by increasing the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program flexibilities is also a positive move forward – increasing access for low-income individuals living in geographically disadvantaged areas. Unfortunately, Ranking Member Boozman’s framework calls for future reevaluations of the Thrifty Food Plan to be cost-neutral, which would significantly decrease the SNAP benefit and not reflect the real cost of food, consumption patterns, and meal preparation for low-income households. In the House Agriculture bill which passed out of committee, H.R. 8467, the Farm, Food, and National Security Act of 2024, the Alliance is similarly concerned by calls for limiting the ability of USDA to make changes to the Thrifty Food Plan.

International Food and Nutrition Security:

Worldwide, nations are facing an unprecedented hunger crisis with the need for urgent investment in global food and nutrition security. The bill framework put forward by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow allows flexibility in the Food for Peace international food aid and development toolbox to bolster both emergency aid and development in the right circumstances.

We appreciate the proposal by Senate Chairwoman Stabenow’s inclusion of much-needed flexibilities in the Food for Peace program and its ability to build resilience of communities to withstand shock and become more self-sufficient. Unfortunately, proposals from both Ranking Member Boozman in the Senate and the House bill limit these flexibilities in the Food for Peace program. Both the House bill and Senate Minority proposal also include a floor of 50% for commodities and shipping of U.S. commodities, which takes away from the flexibility of the program and limits the ability for USAID to use the best tool given the particular circumstance. The Senate Majority proposal keeps the floor lower for U.S. commodities and shipping at 40%, which correlates to our good faith proposal of supporting a 30% floor for commodities and an average 10% for shipping.

The Farm Bill continues to face a contentious road ahead.  While containing some positive aspects, the House bill contains policies that would largely be detrimental to both domestic and global food security. We believe that the proposal put forth by Chairwoman Stabenow in the Senate Agriculture Committee is the best way forward to achieving food and nutrition security in the U.S. and abroad. We urge Chairwoman Stabenow and Ranking Member Boozman to work together in a bipartisan manner to advance a Senate bill that ensures U.S. and global nutrition programs are a continued priority, as they have been historically.

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