This week the Senate Agriculture Committee approved S 3240, the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012. Commonly known as the Farm Bill, this legislation reauthorizes a number of federal agricultural programs, reforms others, and reduces the federal deficit by $23 billion. Unfortunately, one of
the programs targeted for deficit reduction by the Senate Committee on
Agriculture is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP),
formerly known as food stamps.
Specifically, the bill would reduce benefit levels for some households
that also receive payments from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance
Program (LIHEAP). According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO),
this change would cut $4.5 billion from the SNAP program over the next
decade and result in approximately half a million households losing
about $90 per year in benefits.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) offered an amendment to
the Farm Bill that would restore the SNAP cuts and increase funding for
the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack program, offset ting these costs by
cuts to crop insurance programs. The timing of introduction of the
Gillibrand amendment is uncertain at this point, as it could take weeks
for the Farm Bill to move through the Senate. Updates will be posted on
the blog as this process unfolds.
*Update 6/13: The Senate is continuing to work its way through the amendment process for the Farm Bill. Notably, one of the amendments offered by Sen. Paul (R-KY) would have converted the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) into a block grant, as called for in the House-passed budget resolution. The amendment would have cut about $37 billion in funding for the program in the coming fiscal year, almost half of the program’s budget. Fortunately, the amendment was defeated 33-65, with 13 Republicans joining Democrats in rejecting the idea of block grant conversion for SNAP.