October 28, 2022

The Farm Bill, which comes up in Congress every five years, has numerous titles, including one for nutrition and others for crop insurance, conservation, energy, and many other agricultural program areas. Recent statements from key Farm Bill stakeholders and public polling show growing support for a “unified” 2023 Farm Bill that strengthens the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

A Unified 2023 Farm Bill

In October 2022, the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) said its 2023 Farm Bill key priorities “include keeping nutrition and farm programs together and supporting risk management tools.”[i]  AFBF explained that maintaining “a unified farm bill which keeps nutrition and farm programs together” is important as the “bill supports the people who produce the food and supports the people who need assistance accessing nutritious food for their families.” [ii] Earlier this year, at the 2022 Agri-Pulse Ag & Food Summit, the National Farmers Union also underscored support for a Farm  Bill that aids both farmers and consumers.[iii]

On October 12, 2022, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) told the Consumer Federation of America Conference attendees, “We need the safety net for farmers. We need the safety net for families … And in my book, we don’t do a farm bill unless we are strengthening both.”[iv] She emphasized the importance of building on the 2021 update to the Thrifty Food Plan that boosted SNAP benefits permanently, adding, “It’s incredibly important that we keep that going.”[v]

Making the Case for SNAP Investments

Lawmakers will likely have a bigger budget “baseline” to work from in crafting the 2023 Farm Bill. AFBF reportedly expects an extra $40 billion will be added to the “baseline” as a result of spending included in the recently enacted tax and climate bill.

Prioritizing SNAP investments continues to gain momentum. The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) resolution adopted this fall states, “NASDA supports continued and increased investments in nutrition and food assistance programs to address national food insecurity, strengthen local/regional food systems, and support the overall health of individuals.”

Moreover, opinion polls show public support for maintaining SNAP expansions beyond the pandemic. Purdue University’s survey of consumers in September 2022 found clear majorities in favor of policy to “[p]ermanently extend and expand pandemic-related changes to SNAP that increase benefits and lower barriers to participation.”[vi] Prior, Purdue monthly polls also have found significant support for SNAP expansions.[vii]

Strengthen SNAP Agenda Urgent as Hunger Cliff Looms

Temporary increases in SNAP benefits and access during the pandemic are due to expire when the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Declaration ends.[viii]  Unless Congress takes action, SNAP Supplemental Allotments, suspension of SNAP time limits on unemployed and underemployed adults, and reduced barriers to SNAP for college students all are slated to sunset.

On average, most SNAP participants are expected to lose $82 a month in SNAP benefits. This looming “hunger cliff” gives particular urgency to the campaign to strengthen SNAP benefit adequacy and equitable access permanently.

The strengthen SNAP agenda includes:

  • R. 4077/S. 2192 to increase SNAP allotments and extend SNAP to Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands,
  • R. 1753 to end SNAP time limits, and
  • R. 1919 to improve SNAP access for college students.

So far, House cosponsors on these bills number 111, 110, and 76, respectively.

Take Action

  • Join FRAC in urging Members of Congress to sponsor and pass legislation that would strengthen SNAP benefit adequacy and improve equitable access.
  • Disseminate information about the importance of SNAP investments for the 2023 Farm Bill.
  • Follow @fractweets to amplify the strengthen SNAP agenda on social media

[i] American Farm Bureau Federation, “AFBF Sets Farm /bill Priorities,” Oct. 13, 2022, posted at https://www.fb.org/news/afbf-sets-farm-bill-priorities

[ii] Id.

[iii] See Ellen Vollinger, “The Road to the 2023 Farm Bill: A Strong Nutrition Title and the Rural/Urban Alliance,”,FRAC Chat, Food Research & Action Center, Apr. 8, 2022, posted at  https://frac.org/blog/the-road-to-the-2023-farm-bill

[iv] See Chuck Abbott, “Food stamp fights are possible in 2023 farm bill, says Stabenow,” Ag Insider, FERN, Oct. 12, 2022 (subscription available via https://thefern.org/sign-up-for-the-fern-newsletter/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIxdaXie7d-gIVs_7jBx05LAm5EAAYASACEgKpEvD_BwE).

[v] See id.

[vi] Jayson L. Lusk and Sam Polzin, “Cionsumer Food Insights,” Center for Food Demand Analysis and Sustainability College of Agriculture, Purdue University, vol. 1, issue 9, Sept. 2022, at p. 16, posted at  https://ag.purdue.edu/cfdas/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/Report_09-2022-1.pdf

[vii] See Ellen Vollinger, “Survey Finds Urban and Rural Americans Support Expanding SNAP Benefits Permanently,” FRAC Chat, Food Research & Action Center, May 19, 2022, posted at, https://frac.org/blog/cfdas-survey-expand-snap-benefits  and Ellen Vollinger, “New Surveys Find Clear Public Support for SNAP Expansions,” FRAC Chat, Food Research & Action Center, Sept. 15, 2022, posted at https://frac.org/blog/new-surveys-find-clear-public-support-for-snap-expansions

[viii] See Andrew Cheyne and Ellen Vollinger, “A Strengthen SNAP Agenda to Address the Hunger Cliff—Part 1,” FRAC Chat, Food Research & Action Center, Feb. 3, 2022, posted at https://frac.org/blog/strengthen-snap-agenda-part-1