April 8, 2022

Work around the 2023 Farm Bill is picking up. House Agriculture Committee hearings are already underway. Senate Agriculture Committee field hearings in Michigan and Arkansas are expected later this spring.

A recent Agri-Pulse Ag & Food Summit highlighted the important roles the nutrition title and an united rural/urban coalition will play in getting a Farm Bill passed by Congress and signed into law.

The Farm Bill is broken down into 12 different titles, each title encompassing broad categories that address different programs. Title IV, the “nutrition title,” authorizes several federal nutrition programs, including SNAP, but not Child Nutrition Programs, which are authorized under a separate process.

Although the funding available for the 2023 Farm Bill is unclear, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives President Chuck Conner advised Agri-Pulse attendees, “We’ve got a remarkable agriculture system….We should not be shy about seeking the resources we do need for a good Farm Bill.”

Lessons Learned from Past Farm Bills

As former Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) told the Agri-Pulse gathering during a panel, “You’re not going to pass a Farm bill without an appropriate Food Stamp Program. And it fits into what farmers and ranchers and growers do—they provide food.”

Roberts, along with current House Agriculture Committee Chairman David Scott (D-GA) and former House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN) were clear that efforts to undermine SNAP threaten to bring a Farm Bill down. That is particularly the case in the Senate, where 60 votes and bipartisan support usually are needed for passage.

Discussing the 2018 Farm Bill, Roberts explained, “The fact we did not get into [SNAP] work requirements and other things that were very difficult to administer, that means I got every Democrat vote, and I only lost 13 Republican votes. We had 87 votes for the Farm Bill.”

Looking ahead, Peterson warned, regardless which party controls Congress, “if you want to make sure you don’t have a Farm Bill” then include unacceptable SNAP provisions.  (Session: Lessons Learned From Past Farm Bills, 43:40-47:00 mark)

Keys to Success for the 2023 Farm Bill

FRAC’s Ellen Vollinger, Rob Larew, president at the National Farmers Union (NFU); and Roger Szemraj, principal at OFW Law. (pictured L-R). This session was moderated by Philip Brasher, executive editor at Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc (Pictured on the top left screen)

On a separate panel on why rural America needs the Farm Bill nutrition programs, National Farmers Union President Rob Larew concurred.  He said, without a strong nutrition title, “it is next to impossible to get a Farm Bill through.”

Regarding  keys to success in passing the 2023 Farm Bill, Larew opined, “I think ultimately at the end it will be a combination, including a coalition comprised of a lot of folks in here that want to see a farm bill, that want to make sure that there is a strong nutrition title to address hunger in this country, and that ultimately there will be one that comes through.”

There is much for rural and urban stakeholders to point to in coalescing around a strong nutrition title in the 2023 Farm Bill.

1. SNAP Benefits Economies

  • Each $1 dollar in federal SNAP benefits during a downturn generates between $1.50 and $1.80 in economic activity.
  • It benefits all parts of the food chain, from farmers and food manufacturers, to truckers, grocery stores and store clerks.

2. SNAP Matters for Rural and Urban Areas

In new research published by the American Enterprise Institute, Northwestern University professor Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach estimates in 2020 SNAP reduced poverty in metro areas by 0.8 percent and in rural areas by nearly double that (1.4 percent).

The US Conference of Mayors recently urged Congress to strengthen SNAP access and benefits on a permanent basis in a sign on letter.

Join FRAC in educating policymakers and the public about the importance of SNAP and making investments for a strong nutrition title in the 2023 Farm Bill.