Posted 4/19/2018

House Republicans’ Partisan Farm Bill Takes Aim at Access to Healthy Food

House Republicans are expected to jam a partisan Farm Bill through committee today on a party-line vote. Fresh off celebrating the giant tax giveaways they provided to corporations and the top 1%, House Republicans are rushing to take access to healthy food away from families. Instead of making it harder for low-wage workers to feed their families and find better-paying jobs, Republicans should work with Democrats to pass a bipartisan Farm Bill that invests in rural communities and prevents American workers, children, and people with disabilities from going hungry.

The Republican Farm Bill dismantles the nation’s main source of nutrition assistance for struggling workers and families, cutting SNAP benefits by more than $20 billion over the next decade and hurting millions of Americans.

Center for Budget and Policy Priorities: “The plan contains changes that would cause more than 1 million low-income households with about 2 million people — particularly low-income working families with children — to lose their benefits altogether or have them reduced.”

Most SNAP recipients are already working – they just don’t make enough money to put food on the table.

Center for Budget and Policy Priorities: “SNAP already has a harsh cutoff for part of this group — workers not raising minor children who are working less than 20 hours per week. SNAP is limited to just three months out of every three years for those individuals who work less than 20 hours a week (with some exemptions).”

Washington Post’s Jared Bernstein: “Because many poor households use SNAP (food stamps) to get through periods of unemployment, we need to observe the labor market activities of able-bodied adult recipients over the course of time. Recent research on this question shows that while half of SNAP recipients worked in the month they got SNAP, three-quarters worked in the year before or after that month.”

Young children whose parents make simple paperwork errors could go without nutrition assistance for years under the punitive Republican bill.

The New Republic: “The first error costs a household one year of aid. A second offense costs them a full 36 months of aid. The result would be more hungry families, on top of the 13.1 million households that already regularly experience food insecurity.”

Center for American Progress: “What’s more, time limits would also be applied to nondisabled adults caring for children older than age 6. This move ignores the caregiving duties and other barriers to steady employment that many of these parents and guardians face and subjects their children to greater risk of hunger.”

The Republican Farm Bill makes it harder for hungry families to access food by increasing costs and red tape for states, while forcing them to manage a giant new “training” bureaucracy.

Center for Budget and Policy Priorities: “Farm Bill Funding for Work Programs Won’t Buy Much”

New Republic: “Despite its insistence on employment, [the bill] would only allot states $30 per individual for job training. Consider that against recent tax cuts that will cost an estimated $1.9 trillion over the next decade, and it’s clear that Republicans are trying to offset cuts for the wealthy and corporations by slashing SNAP and other spending programs.”

Center for American Progress: “That’s hardly enough to ‘guarantee access’ for anyone who wants it, particularly when compared to the minimum of $3,000 it takes to fund a meaningful skill-building opportunity per person. It’s likely, then, that states won’t be equipped to provide anything but low-quality, dead-end opportunities for people who need work hours in order to receive SNAP or to help these individuals overcome the significant barriers to employment that many of them face.”

Instead of punishing low-income Americans and their children, Democrats are fighting for higher wages for all workers.

Center for American Progress: “If Congressional Republicans’ goal were truly to help families succeed in work and earn enough to feed their families, they would support policies—like raising the minimum wage and requiring fair scheduling practices—that ensure wages and hours are sufficient to allow working families to put food on the table.”

Economic Policy Institute: “Among workers in the bottom three wage deciles, every $1 increase in hourly wages reduces the likelihood of receiving means-tested public assistance by 3.1 percentage points. This means that the number of workers receiving public assistance could be reduced by 1 million people with a wage increase of just $1.17 an hour, on average, among the lowest-paid 30 percent of workers. These workers would see higher incomes, even as they no longer received public assistance.”