A massive package of federal legislation known as the Farm Bill is currently up for reauthorization in Congress. The current legislation, last passed in 2014, is set to expire September 30th. The legislation sets the nation’s food and agricultural policy, and contains 12 titles, ranging from commodities to conservation, and from nutrition to trade. It even provides funding for broadband internet expansion in rural areas. This is a big bill with a little bit of everything!
What’s in a name?
While the Farm Bill earned its name due to its far-reaching effect on the agricultural economy, it doesn’t just set agricultural policy. This bill also encompasses the administration of several anti-hunger programs, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) and Farm to Food Bank. Each of these federally funded programs works hand-in-hand with the private sector (i.e. the food bank network and charities) to address the nutritional needs of the low-income population. These programs are vital for low-income people, but also support local farmers and local economies.
Where are we, and how did we get here?
We are currently in the “Conference” section of the timeline. Now that the Senate and House have each passed their version of the bill, conferees from both chambers come together to negotiate the drastically different bills. The House version attacks SNAP and proposes severe cuts that would result in a net loss of over 9 billion meals in 10 years- a loss that the emergency food network cannot meet the demand for. The Senate has taken a bipartisan approach to strengthen SNAP and many other programs within the Farm Bill, with leadership from Chairman Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Member Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). For FBCM’s statement on the passage of the Senate bill, click here.
For a side-by-side analysis of the two bills, click here.
We are supportive of the bipartisan approach, and look forward to working towards the passage of a strong Farm Bill that supports Michigan and our nation.
To contact your member of Congress, and let them know you support a bipartisan approach that protects programs like SNAP and TEFAP, call 1-888-398-8702.