The Farm Bill
What is the Farm Bill?
The Farm Bill is a piece of legislation that covers both agriculture as well as the federal nutrition programs. Nearly all of the federal programs that help feed people are covered in this legislation. Every five years, Congress reauthorizes the Farm Bill and approves spending on programs that help farmers grow food and helps families put food on the table.
How does the Farm Bill impact hunger?
The first line of defense against hunger is a program called SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), which is funded through the Farm Bill. SNAP is available to low-income individuals and families. Participants receive a card that is loaded with benefits every month that may only be used for food (not at restaurants and not prepared food). The amount of benefits that are loaded onto the card depend on the participant’s income, their expenses, and the size of their family. SNAP allows families to shop in the grocery store for food that fits their diet and cultural preferences. It is used by 700,000 Wisconsinites and moves people from the food pantry into the grocery store.
In Wisconsin, 40% of SNAP participants are children, about 25% are either elderly, blind or disabled and 80% of households include someone who is already working.
The Farm Bill also funds the other nutrition programs, part of what’s called the “Nutrition Title.” Learn about some of the other nutrition programs that impact hunger, here.
What should you know about the 2018 Farm Bill?
The House of Representatives passed their version of the Farm Bill on June 21st, 2018.
The vote was very close, with 213 Republicans voting for the bill, all Democrats and 20 Republicans voting against the bill, and many of those in opposition citing the harmful SNAP provisions as a reason for their “NO” vote.
What should you know about the House Farm Bill?
- The harsh and partisan farm bill would cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by nearly $19 billion and take away food assistance from 2 million struggling Americans, including children, seniors, and veterans in our state.
- The estimated annual reduction in FoodShare benefits available to Wisconsin residents would be approximately $23.8 million. (In calendar year 2017, Wisconsin FoodShare benefits costs totaled approximately $867.2 million, so the reduction in benefits is estimated to be approximately 2.7% of the total.)
Wisconsin children stand to lose the most in the House Farm Bill.
- 75,720 Wisconsinites are expected to lose benefits, 23,369 of them being children.
- The children that lose benefits would likely lose their ability to access free or reduced priced school meals.
If we don’t take action, the Farm Bill could punish the children, parents and seniors that depend on food provided through SNAP.
What should you do?
It’s now up to the Senate to do better for Wisconsin. We urge Senator Baldwin and Senator Johnson to support the bipartisan Senate farm bill and reject any harmful amendments that would incorporate provisions from the House bill or make other changes that would take away food assistance from people who are struggling.
Call, write or email your Senator and let them know that we need to reject harsh provisions to SNAP and protect vulnerable Wisconsin citizens struggling to feed themselves and their families. Tell them that we need to pass a Farm Bill that protects SNAP.