Yesterday, House Agriculture Committee members took to the House floor to highlight the importance of nutrition in the 2018 Farm Bill. The Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (H.R. 2) maintains and strengthens the nation’s nutrition programs to assist those who struggle to put food on the table, while providing critical training to help people learn the skills necessary to gain well-paying jobs, financial self-sufficiency and better futures for themselves and their families.
Below are highlights from members on the House floor.
“I’m proud of the bipartisan work we have done up to this point because there is nothing in this farm bill that wasn’t part of those over 21 hearings that we had. What we are doing is providing the tools necessary to help individuals escape the cycle of poverty. I believe that there are many pathways to success in life and sometimes we do need that critical safety net to take care of our families and help us get back on our feet. With the rebounding economy and an increased focus on workforce development, I know we’re going to be able to open new economic doors for many because Americans deserve no less.” – Vice Chairman Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (PA-05)
“[At a farm bill listening session] I specifically remember an incredibly brave young woman who stood at the microphone and said ‘I’m the reason SNAP needs to stay in place.’ She said, ‘I was 18 years old, a single mother of a 3-year-old and I didn’t like my future. I wanted to go to college.’ And SNAP and the other benefits that were available, along with her hard work, her sweat equity and her helping hand up allowed her to get a college education. She became an educator, got an advanced degree and is now in administration. She said for her and her daughter, public assistance is now defined by what they do for other folks as opposed to what’s been done for them.” – Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX)
“Our farm bill increases nutrition education, incentivizes our SNAP recipients to make healthier choices and increases access to nutritious foods. How can anyone vote against a bill that looks at the food insecurity problem in this country from so many angles, through the eyes of so many people?” – Rep. Roger Marshall (KS-1)
“In Arkansas we require folks who want to be part of this program and by extension are eligible for SNAP to demonstrate they have utility bill expenses. This will take what my state is doing and implement it across the nation and ensure that SNAP’s initial purpose of helping those who need it the most is being achieved. We exempt the elderly from that requirement of documentation so we will make sure that people understand that they are not being adversely impacted. Federal resources are not infinite and being responsible stewards of the program serves those who need help the most. If we enact this reform, they’ll always be taken care of.” – Rep. Rick Crawford (AR-01)
“The bill we introduce today is an example of good policies that save taxpayer dollars and helps American families who are trapped in a cycle. We want to change that. We have written good policy because we will shift the conversation from one purely focused on benefits to one about helping people climb the economic ladder. We created a work requirement paired with meaningful investments. This farm bill requires and funds sufficient educational slots guaranteed to all SNAP participants subject to being able to work. And we modernized the education and training to include job search, apprenticeships, subsidized employment and financial history. We must do more to get people the education and training that they need to take these skilled jobs and help themselves and help their families. ” – Rep. Rodney Davis (IL-13)
“When it comes to work-capable people between 18 and 59 contributing to the work force, 80% of the American people agree on this. This is a common sense humane thing to do. This is something that is designed to lift people from poverty and break the cycle of debt and get people to work. There should be no real controversy or no reason that people don’t want to support it.” – Rep. Scott Desjarlais (TN-4)
“We are going to make it easier for people who are on the SNAP program to qualify for the program without having every nickel of any asset that they possibly have to count against their qualification. For instance, this legislation will allow a family on SNAP to have a savings account of up to $2,000 without that counting against the asset test. Today, that isn’t the case. A family who might need money for fixing their car or some other kind of family emergency, they aren’t allowed under the rules to have a $2,000 savings account. That’s wrong. And it is an outmoded notion and we have precluded that. These are the commonsense reforms that are contained within this proposal that I hope our colleagues will pay heed to and carefully study because we welcome their input and we know the American people are demanding we have reform in these programs and we encourage and really bring the job opportunities and the job training counseling to people who are dependent.” – Rep. John Faso (NY-19)
“People are excited about this. Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with one of the participants of this program. And his name is Joe. After spending 10 years in prison, Joe knew he needed a new start. He signed up for an HVAC program using the SNAP employment and training funding. Joe, today, is working full time, and he gets great reviews from his employer. He no longer needs any federal benefits. He has the confidence and skills needed to be a productive member of society. So this bill, the 2018 farm bill, provides this unique opportunity to expand funding for these life-changing programs. Jobs are available, the need is great, the time for action is now. Let’s help families make their dreams of self-sufficiency a reality.” – Rep. Vicky Hartzler (MO-04)
“Our bill makes commonsense reforms to ensure that recipients of these benefits, those who are capable of work, have a pathway to upward mobility, can get good jobs and ultimately can use their God-given talents to achieve a very rewarding career. That’s what this all about.” – Rep. David Rouzer (NC-7)
“I think one of the things that hasn’t been talked about enough is the fact that the current system is a trap. The harder people work, the more they make, sometimes the less they have. So what we’ve done in our farm bill that’s coming up, is to change the assets that a household can have and remain on the SNAP program. For instance, we exclude in this legislation, the first $12,000 in the value of any licensed drivers’ vehicle in a SNAP household. Many people on the SNAP program, they have to travel a long way to work or get groceries, especially in rural areas like the 24 counties I represent. Excluding these vehicle assets is another benefit that we help give to people. We want people who are out there to have the ability to work hard, save some money and continue to improve their lives.” – Rep. Austin Scott (GA-8)
“Americans today right now enjoy one of the lowest percentages of their average income of being spent on food at any time back when our country was founded. Food banks are an existing strong network for food delivery to those in need. However, it’s important to note many farmers often still have excess fruits and vegetables that go to waste. The solution is to establish a Farm to Food Bank program allowing states to enter agreements with farmers to procure this excess for distribution. To achieve this, we are expanding funding in H.R. 2 for TEFAP (The Emergence Food Assistance Program), using a portion for a Farm to Food Bank program that provides an inexpensive source of food for low-income families, while supporting producers. Making sure these programs are protected and making sure they work fairly and honestly is the objective of this farm bill.” – Rep. Bob Goodlatte (VA-6)