Saturday, July 13, 2013

Atlantic Magazine: Farm Bill Deal to Hungry Americans, 'You're on Your Own'

This past Wednesday, the House Republican leadership separated SNAP and other nutrition programs from the rest of the 2013 Farm Bill, setting up the safety-net programs for deep cuts. And then the Farm Bill was brought to the floor sans the nutrition programs.  The headline in an article in the Atlantic Magazine says it all.  "Farm Bill Deal to Hungry Americans: You're on Your Own."

Here's how the article described the maneuver on Thursday:
Last night, House Republicans made good on their promise to split the apparently unpassable farm bill in two--the farm part, with its many and controversial subsidies to big agriculture, now in the form of crop insurance, and the nutrition part, the $80 SNAP, or food stamp, program. And just now, they passed the 608-page bill they released, 216-208.

As with pretty much everything to do with the going-on-two-year struggle to pass a new five-year farm bill, this has more to do with political theater than collaboration.    Read full article

Here is an important piece of information in the article:

Hours before today's vote, the White House announced that President Obama will veto the bill if it ever reaches his desk. Even the Heritage Foundation, which wants a split, doesn't think that Cantor's bill goes nearly far enough in curtailing current farm programs and subsidizing crop insurance.

The article, authored by Korby Kummer, also took the opportunity to promote A Place at the Table, which is the anchor for our Offering of Letters.

I first saw A Place At The Table last summer, in a preview performance at the Aspen Ideas Festival, after which I did a Q&A with Kristi Jacobson, the film's co-director. It was hard to formulate questions fast, because I was so affected by the film, which quietly but insistently traces the stories of several people and families who struggle to get enough food. The gift of the film to make you see something under your eyes every day and, by its close attention to the particular and not the general, to make you understand in a visceral way that hunger is all around you--and something you need to do something about. 

So what happens next?  Much has still to be decided.
  • There will likely be a separate House vote on funding for safety-net programs
  • The Senate version of the Farm Bill still has the safety-net programs.  How will this be addressed in conference committee?
  • President Obama has pledged to veto the Farm Bill as approved by the House?  A veto to any legislation that contains deep cuts to nutrition programs would also be good.
Stay tuned for advocacy opportunities.

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