Farm Bill Remains Work In Progress

August 1, 2012Ian Hainline

When we last visited the Farm Bill, the Senate was considering, but then defeated, an amendment from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand to restore the $4.5 billion cut from SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps) in the 2012 Farm Bill. Since that time, the Senate has passed a Farm Bill proposal.

The action, in turn, has shifted to the House of Representatives, whose proposal cuts $16 billion from food stamps. Cuts of that magnitude, the Center for American Progress estimates, will take 1 billion meals annually off of the table for hungry families across America. The proposal was passed out of the House Agriculture Committee, but has not yet come to a vote by the full House of Representatives. Things became more urgent when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency released a report last Monday, which found that 55% of the contiguous U.S. was under “moderate to extreme drought” in June, making it the most severe and far-reaching drought in over half a century. This is having a seriously deleterious impact on a range of crops and produce, resulting in reduced harvest and rising prices In the face of this information, members of Congress have tried to take action, but seem to have backed themselves into a corner. Republican leadership in the House, as the New York Times observed, is “caught in a squeeze between their party’s most ardent conservatives and drought-ridden farmers.” The Farm Bill is a vital piece of legislation, concerning the welfare not only of America’s farmers, but also the nearly 47 million Americans who participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Our Jewish tradition teaches us in Proverbs 14:31 that “One who withholds what is due to the poor affronts the Creator; one who cares for the needy honors God.” Congress should pass a Farm Bill that meets the needs of all Americans in a moral fashion—abandoning neither farmers nor taking food off the tables of  hungry families across the country. Join us, and tell Congress to support America’s anti-hunger programs in the Farm Bill. Image courtesy of CBS News

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