EPPN: House to vote on farm bill

[Episcopal Public Policy Network] The House of Representatives will vote this week on a farm bill (HR 1947) that would dictate funding for food, farm, and nutrition programs over the next five years.

The farm bill affects people from rural America to our inner cities, people in our local communities and vulnerable populations around the world. A responsible, effective farm bill can strengthen nutrition programs for low-income Americans, encourage economic growth in struggling rural communities, promote solutions to deadly poverty in developing countries, and enhance global food aid to the world’s most impoverished people.

Unfortunately, the farm bill the House will consider this week falls short of this promise, particularly in the areas of domestic nutrition funding and international food aid.

HR 1947 would include a devastating $20.5 billion cut to the domestic Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program (SNAP) and would significantly reduce eligibility for low-income families in the United States to access this nutritional support.

SNAP has proven to be effective, efficient, and transparent. In 2010, SNAP lifted 3.9 million Americans (including 1.7 million children and 280,000 seniors) above the poverty line. The House’s proposed cuts would eliminate nearly two million people from the SNAP program, and would prevent 210,000 children from receiving school lunches.

HR 1947 would also eliminate a program designed to make international food assistance more cost-efficient. Fortunately, Representatives Royce (R-CA) and Engel (D-NY) introduced an amendment that would reverse this proposed elimination by implementing and authorizing smart, bipartisan reforms to U.S. international food assistance. Without increasing cost, these reforms would reach a minimum of two to four million more people each year, and would support and strengthen local agriculture and long-term food security for recipient communities.

We need a farm bill that feeds hungry people and disrupts the vicious cycles of domestic and global poverty. Tell your representative to support amendments that would strengthen the HR 1947′s capacity to support poor and malnourished people in the United States and around the world.