Farm Bill Titles Explored in House Agriculture Committee
On Wednesday, the Subcommittee on Nutrition, Oversight and Department Operations invited witnesses to discuss the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP and the Farm Safety Net.
On Wednesday, the Subcommittee on Nutrition, Oversight and Department Operations invited witnesses to discuss the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP. The 2018 Farm Bill allocated an estimated 75 percent of its budget to food assistance programs including SNAP.
The experts invited to the hearing asked the committee to make changes to SNAP that would modernize the program and decrease barriers to entry.
Mr. Mike Beal, Chief Financial Officer, Ball's Food Stores: “Food is a very basic human need, we all know that, right. And I will tell you what I see anecdotally, when people don’t have the money to buy food, they’re still going to find a way to get food. And what we see when they can’t afford to get the food, we see it in our stores today, increasing, because of inflation, the price of gas, housing and everything else is that we see our theft go up. It’s what we call shrink."
USDA statistics reveal that 1 in 8 Americans are food insecure. According to the department, 41 million are currently being assisted by SNAP at a cost of roughly $9 billion per month.
Mrs. Ty Jones Cox, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: "Another key piece for the Center is the 3-month time limit for unemployed adults without children in their home. This is just a harsh time limit there’s no research that shows taking away from food from people is going to make them be able to work."
Included in the discussion were concerns over immigrants and refugees being able to receive SNAP benefits.
On Thursday, the Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management met to talk about two titles for the 2023 Farm Bill, commodity loss payments and crop insurance.
Austin Scott, Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Farm Commodities: "This is administration is clearly showing their lack of regard for fulltime farmers and ranchers that produce our food. Instead of going on Jimmy Kimmel, perhaps the administration could remove the excise tax diesel fuel and reduce the cost of farming."
A large portion of the discussion focused on the future of the farm safety net. Over the past year, potential producer profits have been bolstered by bullish futures markets which kept the current safety net of ARC and PLC payments from kicking in. Even with higher prices, a trade war with China and the COVID-19 pandemic put a drag on the size of those profits. Federal payments were delivered to offset the trade war and the pandemic but the money has failed to make most farmers financially whole.
Rep. Cheri Bustos, D- Chair - House Agriculture Subcommittee on Nutrition: "What’s an appropriate metric we should be using to evaluate how the safety net should be structured.”
Dr. Joe Outlaw, Texas A&M University: "What we need, Madame Chairwoman, is that prices are going to decline but input prices are going to stay up for a while, and they always do, and that’s going to leave people in a cost/price squeeze. Either looking at some sort of margin or building in the ability to ratchet up the reference price with the cost is my suggestion."
More hearings will be held in the coming months before a markup on the 2023 Farm Bill will be scheduled in the full committee.
For Market to Market, I’m David Miller.