OKT would like to point out that the developing farm bill further stigmatizes people receiving food assistance by including work requirements and education stipulations. These imply that the reason for hunger and under-nutrition is that people are unwilling to work and/or unable to make smart food choices. In fact, the problem is lack of employment opportunities that pay a living wage and limited access to healthy foods within income-challenged neighborhoods. –Editor
2018 Farm Bill
By: Grace Michienzi
Back in June, the Senate passed its version of the 2018 Farm Bill with a bipartisan 86-11 vote, according to the Washington Post (Dewey and Werner). This followed the partisan passing of the House of Representatives version of the Farm Bill, which had no support of the Democratic Party, primarily because of its “strict work requirements on able-bodied adults” seeking SNAP participation (Dewey and Werner). According to the Congressional Calendar, both the House and the Senate are currently in August recess, however, with the September 30 deadline approaching, the work on the Farm Bill is not over (“Days”).
According to Politico, the Senate voted to conference the Farm Bill on July 31 (Rodriguez). This is because, now that both parts of Congress have passed their versions of the Farm Bill, the House and the Senate have to come together to conference their bills and will end up with one bill that will pass both houses by the September 30 deadline. Senator Mitch McConnell is hopeful that conferees from the House and the Senate will produce a report after Labor Day, according to Politico (Rodriguez). According to the article, the changes to work requirements and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will likely be the biggest cause for debate, both between the two parties and between the House and the Senate (Rodriguez).
Some are speculating why the focus of the Nutrition Programs has even been on work requirements. According to The Hill, the work requirements have been a large part of the bipartisan debate in the House and the Senate, however, the proposed changes would only affect a “relatively small percentage of SNAP recipients” (Glickman et al). The writers suggest that the actual conversation should be about diet, citing research done at Tufts University that presents that SNAP recipients have a lower quality diet than income-eligible non-participants (Glickman et al). The editorial argues that amending funding that goes to SNAP-ed, a program that aims to educate SNAP recipients on nutrition, will “make SNAP even more effective for those it serves—and a better use of the public’s money” (Glickman et al).
According to SNAP-Ed Connection, Michigan’s Implementing Agencies of SNAP-Ed are Michigan State University Extension and Michigan Nutrition Network – Michigan Fitness Foundation (“State”). According to the writers at The Hill, there has never been a more important time for the debate about Nutrition to refocus, however, it is unlikely that the debate will change this late in the year (Glickman et al).
“Days in Session of the U.S. Congress.” Congress.Gov, Library of Congress, United States
Copyright Office, congress.gov/days-in-session.
Dewey, Caitlin, and Erica Werner. “Senate Overwhelmingly Passes Sweeping Farm Bill,
Setting up Fight with House.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 28 June 2018, http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/senate-passes-sweeping-farm-bill-setting-up-fight-with-house/2018/06/28/0007d532-7aff-11e8-80be-6d32e182a3bc_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.2f17cf43668e.
Glickman, Dan, et al. “Focusing on Nutrition Is Paramount to Getting a Sound, Bipartisan
Farm Bill Out.” The Hill, Capitol Hill Publishing Corporation, 10 Aug. 2018, thehill.com/opinion/healthcare/401209-focusing-on-nutrition-is-paramount-to-getting-a-sound-bipartisan-farm-bill.
Rodriguez, Sabrina. “Senate Finally Votes to Conference Farm Bill.” Politico, POLITICO, 1
“State SNAP-Ed Contacts: Michigan.” SNAP-Ed Connection, United States Department of
Agriculture, 6 Aug. 2018, snaped.fns.usda.gov/state-snap-ed-contacts/michigan.