Farm Bill Advances in
On July 11, the House Agriculture Committee approved,
35-11, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (H.R. 6083),
commonly referred to as the Farm Bill. The Senate approved its version of the
Farm Bill (S. 3240) on June 21 (see The Source, 6/22/12). Like its
Senate counterpart, the measure would reauthorize, among other programs,
domestic nutrition and international food assistance programs through FY2017.
H.R. 6083 would authorize $2 billion annually for the
Food for Peace program, which provides food assistance in developing countries.
The authorization for the micronutrient fortification and McGovern-Dole International
Food for Education and Child Nutrition programs would be extended through
The legislation would extend through FY2017 the
authorization for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP,
formerly known as the food stamp program) and would make several changes to the
program. Specifically, the bill would restrict categorical eligibility for SNAP
to households that receive cash assistance from other low-income assistance
programs, such as the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF. The
measure would end eligibility for households where a member has received
“substantial” lottery or gambling winnings. Households that repeatedly lose
their electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card would be required to provide
information that would aid in the investigation of potential fraud or
trafficking of SNAP benefits. The bill also would establish a pilot program to
determine the feasibility of accepting SNAP benefits via mobile transactions.
Retailers selling more than 45 percent of prohibited SNAP
items (e.g., tobacco and alcohol) would be ineligible to participate in the
program. Additionally, retailers would be required to provide perishable items,
such as fresh fruits and vegetables, in at least three of the staple food
H.R. 6083 would authorize $79 million annually for state
SNAP employment and training programs. States would be required to limit
employment and training assistance to those enrolled in specific career or
technical education courses or basic adult education, remedial, and literacy
courses, thus eliminating SNAP benefits for traditional college students.
During the committee’s consideration, supporters of the
SNAP changes argued that the new restrictions would create $16 billion in
savings by eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse from the program. Opponents
countered that the new provisions would represent cuts to the program and deny
SNAP benefits to vulnerable households.
The legislation would reauthorize the Commodity
Supplemental Food Program through FY2017 and would modify the program so that
it serves only elderly populations. Currently, the program also serves women,
infants, and children, regardless of age. The Seniors Farmers’ Market Nutrition
Program would be expanded to allow low-income families to be served.
During consideration of H.R. 6083, the committee adopted
the following amendments by voice vote:
- An amendment by Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL) to
require state agencies to verify the immigration status of SNAP applicants; and
- An amendment by Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) to
require states to verify with the Social Security Administration that
recipients are not deceased or dual-enrolled. States that fail to comply with
the requirement risk losing a portion of their state allocation.