Washington D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement today in opposition to the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, known as the Farm Bill.
“This week, the House of Representatives is expected to vote on the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, known as the Farm Bill. This Farm Bill is a missed opportunity to put forward a bipartisan bill that addresses our food insecurity challenges and supports conservation, agriculture, and related programs that are vital to preserving the environment and strengthening our economy.
“The cuts and changes this Farm Bill makes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are drastic and harmful. People from every walk of life – children, veterans, seniors disabled, and hard-working families – rely on SNAP every day, including 930,000 people from across Washington state. The changes made to SNAP, such as implementing stricter work requirements and restricting the ability for states to extend SNAP benefits to low-income working families based on the high cost of utilities, housing, childcare, or medical care, will result in an estimated $23 billion cut to SNAP benefits, taking essential support away from 2 million Americans.
“Claims that this Farm Bill will get SNAP recipients back to work are misguided and fail to recognize the realities facing working families. SNAP already has strict work requirements, and roughly 80 percent of those benefiting from SNAP who are already required to work, do so in the year before or the year after being on SNAP. Furthermore, many individuals who rely on SNAP don’t have full-time or year-round work, especially in a diverse economy like Washington. The work requirements in this bill would place an immense burden on states, as the bill fails to provide adequate resources or time for states to comply with the bill’s timeline to institute the new work programs.
“This untested and unfunded expansion of employment and training (E&T) programs would put successful E&T programs at risk, such as Washington’s Basic Food Education and Benefit (BFET). BFET has been remarkably effective in providing education and training to help individuals obtain employment. Washington is one of ten states currently participating in an expanded E&T pilot program. If Congress is serious about improving workforce training and getting more Americans back to work, we should continue to invest in these pilot programs to determine what works instead of creating a new massive bureaucracy to manage untested mandatory programs.
“Republicans have also used this Farm Bill as an opportunity to once again undermine our environmental laws and diminish conservation programs. The bill would threaten our clean water by eliminating the Clean Water Act General Pesticide Permit Program, which provides much needed oversight of pesticides sprayed into our waterways. Instead of strengthening conservation programs, it makes an overall cut of $800 million to the Conservation Title. Lastly, this Farm Bill would attack environmental protections for public lands and forests vital to Washington, such as the inclusion of provisions exempting environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for over 45 activities on public lands nationwide.
“The bottom line is that if this bill were enacted, an estimated 25,000 households or 60,000 people in Washington state would lose their SNAP benefits. It’s appalling that just a few months after passing a corporate tax cut bill that costs Americans 1.5 trillion dollars, Republicans can justify taking essential nutrition support away from individuals and families that desperately need it.”