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Trump Ignores Farm Bill's Food Aid in Addressing Farm Bureau

In New Mexico, nearly half of children ages four and younger benefit from federal nutrition assistance programs, such as SNAP. (marthasvillage.org)
In New Mexico, nearly half of children ages four and younger benefit from federal nutrition assistance programs, such as SNAP. (marthasvillage.org)
January 10, 2018

LAS CRUCES, N.M. – When President Donald Trump addressed the American Farm Bureau convention this week, he made no mention of the federal nutrition programs that make up a major portion of the Farm Bill.

Congress is expected to begin work soon on the $140 billion Farm Bill, and there are concerns that some conservatives are targeting the nutrition programs for cuts – programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and subsidized school lunches.

"There seems to be a difference of opinion between House Speaker (Paul) Ryan and Senate Majority Leader (Mitch) McConnell about whether they're going to do welfare reform, which Ryan wants to, and McConnell doesn't,” says James Weill, president of the Food Research and Action Center, “which sets a tone and a path that would affect the Farm Bill as well."

Weill points out that the recent tax bill is projected to mean a $1.5 trillion deficit in the federal budget over the next decade.

He says some of the same Republicans who voted for the tax bill are now looking to cut social programs to help shrink the deficit the tax bill is creating.

Weill says SNAP and other food assistance make up about 70 percent of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s budget. He says while preserving those programs is the primary goal, some improvements are also needed.

"The agriculture committees have reasonably broad, bipartisan support for leaving the SNAP program largely alone, and not fixing the real problems, like benefits aren't enough to get people through the month," he states.

More than 470,000 people in New Mexico receive SNAP benefits.

Weill says it's critical for lawmakers to understand the value of SNAP, and the working people who benefit from it.

"SNAP reaches into every community of America in a fundamentally important way,” he stresses. “Not only is SNAP profoundly important to the economy and to the anti-hunger effort, but a lot of the stereotypes of who it's going to and how it affects communities are not quite right."

Weill notes with several other major issues facing Congress, it could be spring before lawmakers take up the Farm Bill.


Roz Brown, Public News Service - NM