Farm Bill Conference Committee Agreement
The House and Senate conference committee on the Farm Bill came to an agreement this weekend and filed their report on Monday evening. It appears that the House will vote on the conference bill Wednesday.
The SNAP cuts in the conference bill amount to $8.6 billion over 10 years. These savings are accrued by raising the amount each SNAP household must receive in LIHEAP funds in order to receive the Standard Utility Deduction to $20. Washington is one of 13 states that have utilized a small LIHEAP payment to streamline the utility deduction process and provide higher benefits to families.
We estimate that 232,000 Washington households will experience a drop in benefits (up to $90 per month). New applicants will be affected in March 2014; current recipients will receive lower benefits (unless they can provide utility bills that confirm payment) as their certification period ends over the coming year.
The bill has modest boosts in nutrition supports in respects (e.g. for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), for “double bucks” farmers’ market programs, for improved SNAP education and training programs, for Healthy Food Financing). These are small positive steps but are far from commensurate to the SNAP damage in the bill. For example, if Washington received $20 million in new TEFAP funding, the amount allocated by the bill to the entire country, we would still by $50 million behind as DSHS estimates that lost benefits to the “heat and eat” change will total $70 million.
Rep. DelBene, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, worked hard to achieve expanded pilots of positive employment and training strategies like those utilized by the Seattle Jobs Initiative. It’s likely Washington will receive added funds for these pilots. However, language was added that opens the door for states to choose to pilot mandatory work requirements and require TANF work activities.
Once the House votes on the bill on Wednesday, it will move to the Senate where we might see a vote as early as next week.
Onerous House SNAP provisions that did not make the final bill include changes to Categorical Eligibility that would have forced Washington restore the asset and vehicle limits and drop gross income eligibility back to 130% of the federal poverty level. In addition, no across the board work requirements were adopted and current provisions that allow waivers in high unemployment areas of the “3 month out of 3 years’ time limit on receipt of benefits by Able Bodied Adults without Dependents were not changed.
- Contact your member of Congress and ask that they speak out about the SNAP cut in the bill AND vote against the conference committee report tomorrow on the House floor.
- We’re asking members of Congress to speak up about the impact the SNAP cut will have on Washington families even if they choose to vote for the bill.