Farm Bill Expected to Deepen November SNAP Cuts

On November 1, a temporary increase in funding to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) expired, which will result in cuts of up to $35 per month for a family of four. Currently, 1 in 5 American households receive nutrition assistance benefits through SNAP, with households receiving an average of $135 per month. The temporary increase to SNAP matriculated in 2009 as a part of a series of recession-response initiatives at the federal level. Economists are stressing the impact this could have not only on individuals relying on SNAP to provide for themselves and their families, but also on the economy as a whole, as SNAP benefits make up a considerable portion of purchases from retail grocery stores. Additionally, reliance on emergency food assistance programs including food banks and pantries is expected to increase, as more and more food assistance recipients struggle to secure food.

 

What is expected to have an even bigger impact on food assistance programs in the U.S. is the impending cuts to SNAP by the federal Farm Bill. While the Senate has proposed $4 billion in cuts to SNAP, the House of Representatives has proposed nearly $40 billion; a cut that would be felt across the market. On October 30, representatives of the Senate and the House began their deliberations at conference, with the goal of creating the new farm bill. The bill has already been postponed for over a year, and upon expiring last month, officially regressed to the 1949 version of the farm bill. While program funding extensions have protected the prices of commodities like milk from rising as a result of this regression, as well as numerous conservation programs, many of these extensions expire at the end of 2013. Conference is postponed until after November 11 when the House reconvenes, and all parties involved have a stake in ensuring the new bill’s release and approval by the year’s end. 

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