Senate Passes Farm Bill 68 - 32

After three years of fighting to ensure that the Farm Bill protects hunger-relief programs and advances our mission of a hunger-free America-- we have a resolution. Thank you constituents and champions, your voice made a difference. Today, Congress finalized a new Farm Bill, after the Senate’s 68-32 vote to pass H.R. 2642, The Agricultural Act of 2014. The Agricultural Act of 2014 is a five-year farm bill that reforms agricultural and nutrition assistance policy, and serves as the House-Senate Farm Bill Conference’s attempt to reconcile earlier House and Senate versions of the bill

The final bill includes more than $8.5 billion in cuts to SNAP over the next 10 years. These cuts to SNAP come primarily from changing provisions in the “Heat and Eat” program. Though we may have avoided the much deeper $40 billion cuts proposed by the House, the cuts in the Agricultural Act of 2014 will cause an estimated 850,000 households to lose an average of $90.00 in monthly benefits. Unfortunately, these cuts come on the heels of the November 1, 2013 expiration of the benefit boost which impacted every household receiving SNAP benefits and cut the SNAP program by approximately $11 billion.

Though the bill brings significant cuts to the SNAP program, it increases funds to TEFAP, the program that provides emergency food to food banks, by $205 million over the next 10 years. While the additional TEFAP funds will not replace the meals lost from the SNAP cuts, they are a critical investment that will help food banks like ours better meet increased demand in our communities.

The President will receive the new bill by week’s end, upon his signature the bill will become law.   

Additional reforms to nutrition assistance in the Act come by way of the following:

  • Establishes a 10-state pilot to enable states to engage able-bodied adults in mandatory work programs.
  • Prohibits USDA from engaging in SNAP recruitment activities, and advertising SNAP on TV, radio, billboards & through foreign governments. 
  • Ensures illegal immigrants, lottery winners, traditional college students, and the deceased do not receive benefits. 
  • Ensures SNAP recipients are not receiving benefits in multiple states. 
  • Prevents abuses such as water dumping to exchange bottles for cash. 
  • Requires outcomes from existing employment and training programs. 
  • Eliminates medical marijuana as an allowable medical expense. 
  • Allows states to pursue retailer fraud through a pilot investigation program. 
  • Increases assistance for food banks.

Thanks again to our amazing constituents and champions. Your voice is important to us and to our lawmakers.