The Farm Bill Conference Report, released on Monday December 11, protects the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the critical investment that ensures nearly 40 million people who struggle against hunger in this country can afford to put food on their tables. SNAP, a key part of the farm bill, has long been our nation’s most powerful and effective anti-hunger program. On December 12, the Senate passed the bill by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 87-13. The House followed the next day, passing the final agreement with a vote of 369-47. Senators Daines and Tester and Representative Gianforte all supported the final bill. This final farm bill is expected to be signed into law in the coming days.
Following the passage of the final farm bill agreement, the Montana Budget and Policy Center released the following statement:
“This agreement protects and strengthens SNAP, our country’s most effective anti-hunger program. The agreement ensures that SNAP will continue to help feed children and their parents, seniors, veterans, people with disabilities, and working people with low pay or inconsistent hours. SNAP will continue to help nearly 60,000 Montana households make ends meet and afford groceries each month.
We commend House and Senate negotiators for working together to continue the bipartisan tradition of protecting food assistance for Montanans and all Americans. We applaud Senators Daines and Tester, as well as Representative Gianforte, for their support of a final farm bill that rejects harmful amendments that would take away help from people who are struggling.”
What is in the final farm bill agreement?
- The new farm bill conference agreement reauthorizes SNAP and provides for modest improvements to program integrity and administration, such as protecting participant privacy and ensuring that states’ procedures don’t put undue burden on families causing them to lose access to food benefits.
- The agreement would also encourage and prioritize approaches to job training and other employment-related activities that are proven to be successful by the findings from evidence-based employment and training pilot projects that the 2014 farm bill established.
- The conference agreement rejected the House farm bill’s cuts and other harmful changes to SNAP that would have caused more than 2 million people to lose their benefits or face reductions.
- The conference agreement’s SNAP provisions are not entirely without flaws. The agreement includes a provision that would end bonuses to states that demonstrate significant improvements in program operations, and it doesn’t include changes that would strengthen access for those who can face difficulties participating, such as seniors and people with disabilities.