Yesterday, the House passed the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, otherwise known as the Farm Bill. Just like with many things now days, there’s been a lot of misleading noise out there about what this bill would actually do. Here are the facts:
1) PROVIDES CERTAINTY FOR OUR FARMERS
First, this bill contains important provisions to provide certainty to our farmers. Last year, after hosting a number of farm bill listening sessions throughout Eastern Washington to hear directly from farmers here in our community, I set three main priorities for this farm bill:
- Protecting access to crop insurance, an important safety net
- Increasing market development abroad through trade and market access programs
- Reaffirming the commitment to agriculture research, like the great work being done at Washington State University.
In the last Farm Bill, wheat growers gave up direct payments, so protecting crop insurance was top of mind for me during this debate. I’m proud to say that all three of these priorities are reflected in the bill that passed the House yesterday.
2) PROVIDES OPPORTUNITY THROUGH WORK
Another portion of the Farm Bill addresses federal nutrition programs, and this bill makes sensible reforms to support people on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and help get them back into the workforce. Our bill restores a 20 hour per week work or volunteer requirement for work-capable adults (ages 18-59). It’s important to keep in mind that this work requirement only applies to work-capable adults, meaning anyone 60 and over, people with disabilities or families caring for a child with disabilities, families with children under the age of six, and pregnant women are all exempt from these requirements.
3) NO CUTS TO SPENDING ON SNAP
This bill does not make any cuts to spending on SNAP. In fact, it makes investments in SNAP Employment and Training (E&T) services to offer comprehensive services in employment and training, including participant assessment, case management services, job education and training, and other support services to help people find jobs. It also gives states the flexibility and funding to offer increased services and programs. Under current law, the federal government gives $90 million a year to states to help with offering comprehensive SNAP E&T services. Under the 2018 Farm Bill, that number is increased to $250 million in 2019, and to $1 billion for every year after that.
The Farm Bill also makes clear that participating in SNAP E&T services will meet the work requirements under the bill. It guarantees a spot for anyone who wants one. So even if someone isn’t able to find a job but is participating in SNAP E&T they won’t lose his or her benefits. The only way someone would lose their SNAP benefit under this bill is if they get a good enough paying job that they no longer qualify for SNAP, or if they voluntarily choose not to participate in expanded SNAP E&T services in which they are guaranteed a spot. Additionally, the Farm Bill actually raises the asset threshold for who qualifies for SNAP, meaning more people will actually qualify for benefits under our bill.
I believe that a job is so much more than a paycheck, it’s what gives each person dignity and purpose — the opportunity for a better life. By helping people get back into the workforce, and by offering new training and education programs to help them do so, we can provide opportunities for people here in Eastern Washington to achieve a better life for themselves and their families. You can find more information about the Farm Bill by visiting the House Agriculture Committee’s website here. You can also stay up-to-date on all of my work for people in Eastern Washington by following along on Facebook and Twitter.