Farm Bill Update: Late last week, talks between the lead negotiators on the Farm Bill broke down. At the heart of the disagreement is division over both reforming the crop subsidies program and SNAP. The lead negotiators, (the Chairs and Ranking Members of both the Senate and House Agriculture Committees) are continuing their talks over conference calls this week while Congress is on Thanksgiving recess. When Congress reconvenes next week, there will be two short weeks for the Farm Bill Conference Committee to come to an agreement on a new five-year Farm Bill as Congress will break for the rest of the year after Dec. 13. If no agreement can be attained in that time, then both the Senate and the House will have to agree on a continuing resolution on the 2008 Farm Bill to reauthorize spending for all programs in the Farm Bill in the new year.
The Farm Bill could also be picked up by the Budget Conference Committee, led by Senate and House Budget Chairs, Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Paul Ryan, because the Farm Bill could be a source of savings in the federal budget.
The bottom line remains simple: hungry Americans can’t afford further cuts to SNAP in either a new Farm Bill or in the federal budget. SNAP cuts that took effect on Nov. 1 already mean that SNAP spending will be cut by $11 billion over the next three years. The cut to Washington’s SNAP equates to the loss of 47 million meals over the next year alone.
In fact, on Tuesday, the White House spoke out against additional cuts to SNAP in the Farm Bill. Obama Administration representatives said that the cuts amount to a “fundamental difference in values” and commented on the injustice of discussing cutting SNAP at a time when families will gather together to celebrate around Thanksgiving dinner tables.
Please continue your efforts to urge Rep. Suzan DelBene (Washington’s representative on the Farm Bill Conference Committee), Sen. Patty Murray, and your member of Congress, asking them to pass a Farm Bill that meets the following criteria: brings SNAP and the programs in the Nutrition Title back up to a five year extension period and makes no additional cuts to SNAP!
Take Action: Your SNAP Stories Help Us Protect SNAP
Stories of the effects of the Nov. 1 cuts to SNAP and about the impact of the most harmful cuts to SNAP that are still under consideration by the Farm Bill Conference Committee are vital tools to help Rep. DelBene and our Congressional delegation oppose additional cuts to SNAP in the Farm Bill or in the budget.
1. Use this SNAP story collection tool from our friends at Northwest Harvest to find SNAP client stories that will be particularly helpful for fighting harmful SNAP cut proposals. This tool provides descriptions of the kind of client profiles and questions to ask that will help us target the stories we send to Rep. DelBene to provide evidence of how additional SNAP cuts will hurt hungry families. It was designed based on requests for information from Rep. DelBene herself. Please send your stories to Christina. We’ll send the stories to key Congressional members and some stories will be featured on AHNC’s website to make it easier for organizations to tweet to their networks.
2. Join the White House in calling out the injustice of the SNAP cuts during Thanksgiving by writing a letter to the editor of your local paper. Letters should in general be around 200 words. Talking points include the following:
- Thanksgiving is a time when we celebrate all that we should be thankful for-shelter, family, food. Yet there are those in Congress who want to take more food away from families in need by cutting food stamps in the Farm Bill.
- SNAP has already been cut by $11 billion over the next three years due to the end of economic stimulus money to the program. That’s money that isn’t coming back and is already showing signs of harmful impact-lines at food bank doors are long. Food banks can’t make up for the 47 million meals that will be missed in Washington next year due to the Nov. 1 cuts alone.
- We need a five year Farm Bill-one that reauthorizes SNAP and nutrition programs on the same five year timeline as the other Farm Bill programs and one that makes no additional cuts to SNAP.
3. Tell your story or reasons why we should protect SNAP, using one of these Thanksgiving or Hanukkah e-cards that can be sent to Congress or to the White House, courtesy of our friends at the Food Research Action Center.
Announcing the AHNC 2014 State Legislative Agenda
Thank you for taking part in our member survey to approve items for the AHNC 2014 Legislative Agenda! Here’s what we’ll be fighting for together during the upcoming regular session, scheduled to convene on Jan. 13, 2014.
Restore full funding for the State Food Assistance Program (SFA)
Food stamps are our first line of defense against hunger. That’s why we’re continuing the campaign to restore this program that provides state funded food stamp benefits for legally residing, Washington immigrants who are ineligible for SNAP so that their benefits will be equal to what Washington households on Basic Food receive, just as the law creating SFA intended.
Strengthen the Emergency Food Assistance Program (EFAP)
Food banks have already been taking the hit, seeing longer lines of clients and deeper need for services during this sluggish economic recovery after the recession. The need will only deepen as clients face cuts to SNAP/Basic Food. We’re asking the state to increase funding for food banks to help provide some back fill for these cuts to SNAP.
Reinvest funding in the Farmers Market Nutrition Program for WIC and Seniors (FMNP)
FMNP provides vouchers for low-income seniors and families on WIC to purchase fresh, locally sourced produce at farmers markets. Both of these programs are very popular yet funding has not kept up with demand. Increasing funding for these programs will enable DSHS and the Dept. of Health to provide more vouchers to clients. More vouchers will mean more nutritious food for those most in need of that support and more income to help our state’s small farms.
The most recent economic forecast shows some but very little growth in anticipated state revenue such that economists are saying that growth is essentially flat. We need additional, sustainable sources of revenue to fund the priorities that we’ve determined are necessary to move the needle on reducing hunger in Washington and to restore and strengthen other important programs and services that help low-income families meet their basic needs. We are thankful to every single one of you who voted in our member survey-you gave us 100% support to advocate for efforts to close outdated tax expenditures, increase transparency in the creation of tax expenditures, and find new, sustainable sources of revenue that increase fairness to our tax code.
Be sure to mark your calendars for Hunger Action Day to join us in telling your legislators to support these programs that help fight hunger in Washington state! Our annual lobby day will be Feb. 7, 2014 at the United Churches in Olympia. Keep an eye out for an announcement in December to register for HAD 2014!