Saturday, July 13, 2013

Faith Community Responds to House Move to Separate Safety-Net Programs from Farm Bill

There were 435 letters delivered to Capitol Hill on Wednesday, July 11, from a coalition of faith-based organizations.  The letters urged the House of Representatives not to split the safety-net programs from the Farm Bill.

(The letters apparently did not sway the House leadership, which voted later that day to split the farm portion of the farm bill from nutrition programs).

Here is an excerpt of a statement from Bread for the World in the aftermath of the vote.

Bread for the World is deeply disappointed by Congress’ decision on splitting the farm bill. The House of Representatives leadership released a farm bill (H.R. 2642) late Wednesday night that did not include the nutrition title—the section that authorizes the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps). The House voted 216 to 208 to pass the farm-only farm bill this afternoon.

“As the economy slowly rebounds, more than 47 million Americans still depend on SNAP to put food on their tables,” said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. “Passing a farm bill that only contains farm programs would lead to a nutrition bill with SNAP cuts that far exceed the $20 billion proposed in an earlier House version of the farm bill.”   Read full statement

And here is the text of the letter that the faith organizations  sent to each representative on the morning of the vote.

July 11, 2013

Dear Representative:

 As people of faith working to reduce hunger and poverty and urging sustainable stewardship of our resources, we urge you to oppose proposals to dismantle the farm bill. Proposals to “split” the farm bill will put critical programs, particularly SNAP (formerly food stamps), at risk of deep cuts and harmful policy changes.

Passing a farm bill that contains only the farm policies and commodity provisions would almost certainly lead to a nutrition bill with SNAP cuts that far exceed even the $20 billion proposed in the earlier version of the farm bill. Thus, we view a vote in favor of a separate farm policy bill as a vote in favor of uncertainty and possibly catastrophic cuts to SNAP.

Our nation’s food and farm policies as embodied in the farm bill impact people and communities from rural America to developing countries. Historically, there have been good reasons to connect good nutrition policy with good farm policy, and this partnership is essential to the long-term health of all of the programs involved. Splitting the farm bill and making SNAP vulnerable to deep cuts will not only hamper the ability of low-income Americans to put meals on the table, but will also have negative consequences for food producers as well. According to USDA, 16 cents of every dollar spent on food goes back to farmers.

We urge the House to work on a comprehensive farm bill that protects and strengthens nutrition programs and encourages sustainable stewardship of our resources.


American Friends Service Committee
Bread for the World
Church World Service
Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach
Disciples Justice Action Network
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger
National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
National Catholic Rural Life Conference
National Council of Jewish Women
Office of Social Justice, Christian Reformed Church in North America
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A)
Union for Reform Judaism
United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries
The United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society

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