The Senate passed its version of the Farm Bill yesterday on a strong, bipartisan vote. This sets up a conference between the Senate and the House, which narrowly passed its version of the Farm Bill just last week, to hash out the differences between the two versions. Both chambers will have to pass the conformed Farm Bill coming out of conference before the President can sign it into law.
Given the vast differences in SNAP policy between the two versions, this may be a difficult task.
The Senate version, which Feeding Wisconsin supports, would improve SNAP and strengthen its accountability and workforce development features without risking access to basic nutrition assistance for vulnerable Americans. It also invests in fighting hunger and improving health by establishing innovative pilots aimed at increasing access and consumption of fresh produce by low-income Americans dealing with diet related diseases. This is work that many of our food banks are already engaged with in local communities.
The House version of the Farm Bill would make sweeping changes to SNAP, resulting in indiscriminate cuts, arbitrary time-limits and rollbacks in eligibility for up to 7 million Americans. According to our internal estimates, it would reduce access to at least 150 million meals, increasing the risk of hunger for tens of thousands of Wisconsin families, seniors, and children.
While we are encouraged by the strong bipartisan support of the Senate Farm Bill, we remain concerned that some of the extreme policy positions in the House Farm Bill may survive the conference to be included the final Farm Bill.
The Senate Farm Bill, which charts a forward looking vision to fight hunger, improve health and strengthen communities, is the right approach to the Farm Bill.