Multibillion-dollar debt relief for minority farmers is backed by House committee

The House Agriculture Committee approved a landmark $4 billion program of debt relief for socially disadvantaged farmers on Wednesday despite Republican objections that the aid was an unconstitutional form of reverse discrimination. Chairman David Scott, a Georgia Democrat, said minority farmers deserved the help because they had been overlooked in the mammoth trade war and coronavirus relief programs that began in 2018.

Urban Democrats join House Agriculture Committee

Although the House Agriculture Committee's name screams "rural," three of its new members are urban Democrats: Reps. Bobby Rush from Chicago, Ro Khanna from Silicon Valley, and Luis Correa from Orange County, California.

House panel to vote on SNAP extension and minority farmer debt relief

Following President Biden's lead, the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee proposed an extension until Sept. 30 of the temporary 15 percent increase in SNAP benefits on Tuesday. Chairman David Scott also included a sweeping proposal for the government to pay off USDA loans and USDA-guaranteed loans held by socially disadvantaged farmers "to put our Black farmers in a better position" after decades of discrimination. No paywall

Pandemic leads to highest SNAP enrollment in three years

Food stamp enrollment has surged by 6 million people since the pandemic hit the United States, said the USDA on Wednesday in its first update of SNAP participation in months. Some 42.9 million people received food stamps at latest count, the highest number since October 2017.

‘Substantial investments’ needed in public nutrition, says senator

Congress can reduce hunger during the pandemic by extending the 15 percent increase in SNAP benefits and providing an additional $3 billion for WIC, as suggested by President Biden, said Sen. Bob Casey to the Consumer Federation of America on Tuesday. "We have to stay on that path where we're focused on substantial investments" in public nutrition.

USDA withdraws proposals on poultry plant line speeds and SNAP

As part of the regulatory freeze announced by President Biden, the USDA withdrew proposed regulations that would have allowed much faster line speeds at poultry slaughter plants and would have ended SNAP benefits for 3.1 million people by tightening eligibility rules. They were among seven USDA …

With executive orders, Biden gives anti-hunger advocates a big slice of what they wanted

Amid the flurry of executive orders that marked his first 48 hours in office, President Joe Biden announced on Friday that he will ask the USDA to expand two critical food-assistance programs, as hunger continues to plague millions during the pandemic. The orders will raise SNAP benefits and increase funds awarded through the Pandemic-EBT program, which transfers the dollar amount of school lunches onto debit cards to compensate for meals kids miss while schools are closed. The early moves confirm expectations that the new administration will be serious about tackling food insecurity, through both general financial assistance and targeted food aid.(No paywall)

First 100 days: From targeted assistance to SNAP reform, how Biden should tackle the hunger crisis

Two days before he was inaugurated, President-elect Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, spent Martin Luther King Jr. Day in a parking lot in Philadelphia, volunteering with Philabundance, a nonprofit that provides food to families in need. Their show of support for food-distribution efforts reflects what advocates say is a promising new start when it comes to curbing America’s hunger crisis.(No paywall)

Biden: Higher SNAP benefits for the rest of the year

As part of his $1.9 trillion coronavirus package, President-elect Joe Biden said on Thursday that the 15 percent increase in SNAP benefits approved last month should be extended through the end of this year. Biden, announcing his American Rescue Plan, vowed his administration would "tackle the growing hunger crisis in America."

Trump administration revives the food-box giveaway

The Trump administration will spend $1.5 billion on a fifth round of the Farmers to Families Food Box Program, drawing on money from the latest coronavirus relief package, said the USDA on Monday. It was the first use by the USDA of $13 billion in the package for public nutrition programs. The …