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Advocates Press Congress for a Final Farm Bill that Protects SNAP


As House and Senate negotiators reportedly are nearing a deal on the farm bill this week, some 400 Quakers and friends lobbied hard to ensure that the final bill includes strong protections for the Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Food Program (SNAP or food stamps).

Early reports indicate that negotiators are likely on track to protect the SNAP provisions of the farm bill by not imposing additional strict work requirements for recipients of the largest food assistance program in the country.

SNAP helps 40 million Americans put food on the table, but it remained vulnerable to draconian changes throughout farm bill negotiations. The farm bill fully funds SNAP.

Quakers have advocated for a truly bipartisan bill to make sure SNAP benefits dont include punitive work requirements, said Diane Randall, Executive Secretary of the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL). Having adequate food to eat is essential for peoples health and dignity. Congress needs to address hunger, not worsen it.

Additional work requirements for SNAP beneficiaries remained the top obstacle to both houses of Congress agreeing to a final farm bill. Passed in June, the partisan House version exacerbated existing work requirements that would take away food from people unable to find a job. The bill would eliminate or reduce food assistance for more than 2 million people.

Taking food away from people does not help them get a job, said Amelia Kegan, FCNLs Legislative Director for Domestic Policy. Instead, we need to actually address barriers to employment by investing in things like affordable child care, transportation, and skills development.

Though specifics of the final farm bill are not yet clear, FCNL is hopeful that the final version mirrors the Senates approach, which protects and improves SNAP by expanding pilot programs for underserved populations and better connects recipients with effective job training.

The Quakers and friends lobbied staff and members of Congress in more than 200 Congressional offices. They were in Washington DC as part of FCNLs Annual Meeting and Quaker Public Policy Institute, November 28-December 2, 2018.

Lawmakers are working to pass the new farm bill before the end of the 115th Congress. A new Congress begins in January 2019. Learn more about FCNLs work to protect SNAP here.

Timothy J McHugh
Friends Committee on National Legislation;

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