House of Representatives to vote on bill
The House of Representatives is expected to vote this week on Speaker John Boehner's (R-OH) disaster relief bill that includes a one-year extension of the farm bill. The bill offsets disaster payments with cuts to direct payments and protects funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) and international food aid.
"We welcome Speaker Boehner's proposal to protect nutrition and food aid programs in the disaster relief bill," Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, says. "Unlike other proposals we've seen from the House, this bill does not cut one dime from SNAP or international food aid. Given the economic realities families are facing across the United States and around the world, protecting these programs is a must."
SNAP and international food aid provide a critical lifeline to the millions of families who continue to struggle to put food on the table. More than 46 million Americans currently benefit from SNAP; an estimated 46.2 million Americans currently live under the official US poverty rate of $22,314 for a family of four. Last year, international food aid provided emergency food assistance to more than 66 million people around the world.
The current farm bill, passed in 2008 after several short-term extensions, is set to expire this September. Speaker Boehner's proposal will extend the farm bill through September 30, 2013. The bill will likely go to the House floor for a vote this week as Congress works to provide farmers and ranchers affected by this summer's devastating drought a disaster relief plan before going home for August recess.
"I would prefer a full reauthorization that maintains strong funding for SNAP and international food aid while making necessary reforms to our nation's food and farm policies," Beckmann says. "Still, we are grateful for a proposal that maintains a circle of protection."
This bill is a step forward, though Bread for the World continues to push for a longer-term reauthorization that reforms US food and farm policy in a way that strengthens SNAP and protects and improves international food aid. Bread for the World urges Congress to maintain the circle of protection around programs for hungry and poor people as the farm bill reauthorization process moves forward.