Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Sen. Kristen Gillibrand Fights to Preserve SNAP Funding in 2013 Farm Bill

New Mexico's Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham is fighting hard during the markup of the 2013 Farm Bill in the House Agriculture Committee  to save funding for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps).   Rep. Lujan Grisham sits on the Subcommittee on Operations, Oversight and Nutrition, so she has important input on this issue. And as she gains seniority her input will be stronger.

There is a strong anti-hunger advocate in the Senate, who also has a voice on the shape of the Farm Bill. As a member of the Senate Agriclture Committee, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is leading efforts to save funding for SNAP and international food aid and boost credit for struggling small farmers.

 (International food aid goes beyond funding.  A handful of groups, including Bread for the World, have joined together to ask both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees to  reform food aid, so more of the money allocated goes directly to people in need instead of intermediaries).

The Farm Bill was scheduled to go to a vote in 2012, but Congress deferred work to this year.  If you recall, Sen. Gillibrand led an unsuccessful effort in the Senate last year to reallocate some of the guaranteed profits for crop insurance to SNAP. 

So the Farm Bill is back for consideration (right now, even as we speak), and Sen. Gillibrand is again fighting hard to save SNAP funding, in light of a proposal in the Senate to cut $4.1 billion in food stamps over the next 10 years.  These cuts would result in an average benefit reduction of $90 per month for nearly a half a million households.  The House Agriculture Committee is scheduled to consider the Farm Bill tomorrow, May 15.

“In this tough economy, a family losing this access to food assistance would be devastating,”  Senator Gillibrand said in her Web site. “More than half of food stamp recipients are children, eight percent are seniors and unfortunately, as many veterans are using food stamps as any time in history. As a mother and a lawmaker, watching a child go hungry is something I just will not stand for. Families who are living in poverty, who are just trying to figure out how to keep the lights on and put food on the table -- they did not spend this nation into debt. And we should not be trying to balance the budget on their backs.”

Sen. Gillibrand is  willing to compromise, but only to a certain extent. "Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand wants no cut to food stamps, but she said in an interview that she hopes to vote for a final bill even if there is a small cut to food stamps, as there was in the Senate bill she voted for last year," The National Journal reported recently.

The effort to preserve funding for SNAP in the Farm Bill is going to be extremely difficult, but we are glad that Sen. Gillibrand, Rep. Lujan Grisham and others are fighting hard for tens of thousands of food-insecure families around the country. 

No comments: