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Gov. Whitmer endorses Kamala Harris for president, says she's not leaving Michigan; Grilled by lawmakers on the Trump assassination attempt, Secret Service director says, 'We failed;' Teachers rally at national convention in Houston; Opioid settlement fund fuels anti-addiction battle in Indiana; Nonprofit agency says corporate donations keep programs going.

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Democrats consolidate support behind Vice President Harris, Republicans threaten legal action over changes to the presidential ticket, and a possible bipartisan consensus forms on the failure of the Secret Service to protect former President Trump.

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Iowa Hunger Coalition pushes back on SNAP cuts in Farm Bill

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Wednesday, June 12, 2024   

One version of the Farm Bill being debated in Congress would cut billions of dollars in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits from agriculture-dependent states, including Iowa and groups fighting hunger in the state are pushing back.

The version of the Farm Bill released by Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., the House Agriculture Committee Chair, would cut nearly $30 billion in SNAP benefits over the next decade, including $170 million in Iowa, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Luke Elzinga, board chair of the Iowa Hunger Coalition, said based on the projections, the cuts would have a big effect on the most vulnerable people in the state.

"I think that's especially concerning," Elzinga stressed. "Because right now, we have food banks and food pantries across the state that are facing record-breaking demand."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Thrifty Food Plan, which creates funding formulas for SNAP and other food assistance programs, would also freeze future benefits. Thompson and others have argued their version of the Farm Bill amounts to responsible budgeting and planning.

Elzinga's coalition has tracked numbers showing SNAP benefits are already not enough to keep up with providing the lowest-cost meals in the state and come in about 20% below what it takes to make ends meet at the dinner table.

"We're talking about families getting typically less than $6 a day per person," Elzinga pointed out. "It's really already just not enough to get by. So many people are struggling with higher food prices, housing costs and child care costs."

This is not the final version of the Farm Bill to be debated but Elzinga argued releasing a measure with such major cuts to SNAP benefits is not a good starting point for negotiations. In his view, it creates the perception for Congress, low-income people are not high on the priority list.

Rep. Zach Nunn, R-IA, has been a leading GOP voice on the Farm Bill from his seat on the Agriculture Committee. Nunn, who is widely known for conservative stances on social issues, has come under criticism for saying the farm bill's "nutritional assistance (goes) largely to blue state communities."

Nunn has also previously endorsed steep budget cuts that would impact hunger programs like WIC and SNAP.


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