An amalgam of budget hawks, environmentalists and food movement activists are scheduled to call for reform of U.S. food and ag policy today as Rep. Earl Blumenauer unveils legislation to challenge the farm bill being assembled by the House Agriculture Committee.
Undocumented immigrants have become cautious of seeking food aid in the Trump era because of fears they could be targeted for deportation, said a panel of food security experts last week in San Francisco.
The House could debate the new farm bill as early as January or February, said House Agriculture chairman Michael Conaway, meaning that very soon farm-state lawmakers “are going to have some hard decisions to make.”
The government ought to encourage food stamp recipients to find employment or to move up to better-paying jobs, said Robert Doar during a discussion on the future of the largest U.S. antihunger program.
The perennial Republican proposal to convert food stamps into a block grant "would severely undermine" the anti-hunger program's ability to respond immediately to economic downturns, says the American Enterprise Institute, an exponent of free enterprise. In a paper aimed at the 2018 farm bill, AEI says "the program could be strengthened by doing more to assist participants with finding employment and rewarding work."
Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson, the senior Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, says there is a recurring challenge as committee leaders draft an outline of the 2018 farm bill: "The big problem is we haven't got any money." The Agriculture Committee appealed for additional funding early this year but the budget plan approved by Congress kept funding steady.
Officials from USDA and Puerto Rico agreed on a household distribution program that will provide about 500,000 boxes, each holding from 9-16 pounds of U.S.-grown food, "directly to families affected by Hurricane Maria." The distribution, announced over the weekend, was approved through Oct. 27.
The Republican-controlled Senate Budget Committee plans to approve its fiscal 2018 budget resolution this week. It will open the gate to $1.5 trillion in tax cuts over 10 years. The resolution, a blueprint for federal spending, foregoes any cuts in farm-bill programs, unlike the House package, which seeks a $10-billion cut in food stamps over a decade.
A new study by economists at the University of South Carolina found that kids whose families got their monthly SNAP benefits several weeks before a big math test did worse on the test than those who got their benefits closer to the test date, reports NPR.
With classes resuming in Texas following Hurricane Harvey, schools have federal approval to serve free meals to all of their students through the end of this month, said the USDA, which also relaxed its rules on when meals can be served and what qualifies as a meal. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the goal was " to make it as easy as possible to administer the school meals programs at this time to ensure that no child affected by this disaster goes hungry.”