What Is The Farm Bill?
The Farm Bill is a comprehensive package of legislation passed once every five years that has a direct impact on agriculture, food systems, and consumers. It covers programs ranging from crop insurance for farmers to healthy food access for low-income families.
The Farm Bill has different sections — known as titles — that can change over time. The 2018 Farm Bill had 12 titles. Out of those 12 titles, Title Four, is the most relevant for anti-hunger advocates. The Nutrition title covers the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), as well as a variety of smaller nutrition programs to help individuals and families with low-incomes afford food.
- Closing the Meal Gap Act (H.R. 3037/S.1336)The Closing the Meal Gap Act championed by Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) will boost Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for all participants and make further improvements.
SNAP benefit adequacy will be improved by:
- replacing the Thrifty Food Plan with the more appropriate Low-Cost Food Plan as the basis for SNAP allotments;
- eliminating the cap on the SNAP Excess Shelter Deduction; and
- streamlining SNAP Standard Excess Medical Deductions for persons who are older or have disabilities (with a minimum standard of $140).
These changes will ease choices too many people face between paying for food and rent or between paying for food and medicine.
- Improving Access to Nutrition Act (H.R. 1510/S. 2435)The Improving Access to Nutrition Act championed by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Sen. Peter Welch (D-VT) would eliminate three-month time limits on SNAP eligibility for certain working-age adults who cannot document sufficient hours of work. The current law provision takes food off the table of unemployed and underemployed people. The proposal is a long overdue and permanent law change that will promote food security and equity for Americans with low incomes.
Read FRAC’s Don’t Time Limit Food for People in Need: SNAP Talking Points, and use these talking points in your own advocacy. Read FRAC’s new research brief, Maintaining SNAP Benefits for Unemployed and Underemployed People Struggling in the Labor Market.
Use FRAC’s customizable email template (.docx) to urge your Members of Congress to support this vital legislation.
- Enhance Access to SNAP Act (EATS Act) (H.R. 3183/S.1488)The Enhance Access to SNAP Act (EATS Act) championed by Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-CA) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) would put college students with lower incomes on an equal footing with other people in qualifying for SNAP. SNAP would no longer condition eligibility for most people attending college at least half time on performing work study, or 20 hours or more per week of outside employment.
Read this sign-on letter to House and Senate Agriculture Committee leadership urging them to support the EATS Act.
- Hot Foods Act (H.R. 3519/S. 2258)The Hot Foods Act championed by Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) would permanently end the prohibition on use of SNAP benefits to purchase hot prepared foods from food retailers. The proposed change would afford SNAP customers broader choices available to other food shoppers. View Senate and House cosponsors.
- Lift the Bar Act (H.R. 4170/S.2038)The Lift the Bar Act championed by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) seeks to restore access to public programs for lawfully present immigrants by removing the five-year waiting period and other restrictions to SNAP eligibility. The proposal also would remove that waiting period in Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program. Bill highlights. View Senate and House cosponsors.
- Restore Act (H.R. 3479/S. 1753)
- Additional Supporting PrioritiesAdditional proposals would provide more equitable access to SNAP, including for residents of Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as for formerly incarcerated individuals.
Your Take Action “To-Do” List
Use the FRAC Action Network to quickly and easily contact your Member of Congress and urge them to support and cosponsor FRAC’s Farm Bill priority legislation.
Submit comments to the Senate Agriculture Committee on FRAC’s Farm Bill priorities. Use FRAC’s Farm Bill comments template for House Members and urge them to protect and strengthen SNAP.
Actively engage your Members of Congress in your advocacy. Use these FRAC resources.
Read FRAC’s statement to the House Democratic Task Force on Agriculture and Nutrition in the 21st Century for 2023 Farm Bill recommendations to improve SNAP and systematically tackle hunger in the United States.
Collect stories to document the harm and negative impacts that the hunger cliff and other efforts to weaken SNAP have done in your community.
Engage media – print and social – to alert Members of Congress to anti-hunger priorities.
SNAP Resources & Talking Points
Continuing the Thrifty Food Plan Adjustment Is Good for Everyone
The bipartisan 2018 Farm Bill directed USDA to update the Thrifty Food Plan. The resulting update in 2021 was the first in the plan’s history and led to a necessary and long overdue increase in SNAP benefits. Learn why the Thrifty Food Plan adjustment should be protected from efforts to eliminate or weaken it in the 2024 Farm Bill and in other legislation in FRAC’s new one-pager, Continuing the Thrifty Food Plan Adjustment Is Good for Everyone.
Hunger Cliff 2023 State Fact Sheets
A hunger cliff is here. Millions of people who rely on support from SNAP have seen their benefits drop – in many cases, dramatically. As of March 1, 2023, all SNAP participants suffered cuts to their benefits each month when the temporary, pandemic-era SNAP boosts known as Emergency Allotments came to an end. Find out how the hunger cliff has affected people in your state using FRAC’s state Hunger Cliff fact sheets, newly updated for September 2023.
Farm Bill Leave Behind: Congress Must Protect and Strengthen SNAP, TEFAP, and Other Anti-Hunger Programs
SNAP is the cornerstone of the nation’s nutrition and food security safety net, helping to put food on the table for 42 million participants with low incomes each month. When the number of families struggling to make ends meet increases, SNAP responds quickly and effectively to meet that need. Learn more about SNAP priority legislation, along with Farm Bill priorities for TEFAP and other anti-hunger programs.
Fact Sheet – FRAC Facts: SNAP Strengths
Did you know that SNAP stimulates the economy and supports working families? Find more talking points on the importance of SNAP in FRAC’s new FRAC Facts: SNAP Strengths fact sheet, updated for 2023.
The Farm Bill Process
Every five years, the Farm Bill expires and is updated: it goes through an extensive process where it is proposed, debated, and passed by Congress and is then signed into law by the President. Each Farm Bill has a unique name, and the current Farm Bill is called the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018. It was enacted into law in December 2018 and expires in 2023.
Farm Bill 101 Webinar
The Key Players
Members of Congress who sit on the Senate and House Committees on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry hold the primary responsibility of drafting Farm Bills.