For Immediate Release: May 16, 2013
TFAH’s Statement on Farm Bill Legislation in the House and Senate: Much Should be Improved
Washington, DC, May 16, 2013 – Trust for America's Health (TFAH) finds the House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture-passed Farm Bill damaging to the nation’s health. The House legislation would significantly cut programs (most notably in the nutrition title) that have benefited millions of Americans and continually improve the nation’s health.
In contrast, on Tuesday, the Senate Agriculture Committee passed the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act which also included cuts to the nutrition title – however, the cuts were far less severe. That said, if the nation continues to underfund vital public health programs, we will never achieve long-term fiscal stability, as it will be impossible to help people get/stay healthy, happy and productive.
The following is a statement from Jeffrey Levi, PhD, executive director of TFAH.
“We understand in the current economic climate that everyone is being called on to tighten their belts a little bit, but the disproportionate cuts to the nutrition title exhibited in the House legislation are nothing short of deplorable. Around 47 million Americans, nearly half of whom are children, rely on programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to keep from going hungry.
SNAP and other nutrition assistance programs help families directly, but they also provide economic benefits to communities. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) research has found that every $5 of federal SNAP benefits generates nearly twice that in economic activity. In addition, many families rely on SNAP for short-term support: more than half of all new entrants to SNAP in the mid-2000s participated for less than one year and then left the program when their immediate need had passed.
Yet, the House legislation proposes to cut $21 billion from the SNAP program. This would mean as many as three million Americans would lose their benefits entirely and as many as 280,000 children would lose access to school meals. It would also cut $274 million from the SNAP nutrition education program, which provides beneficiaries in all 50 states with information about how to make healthy choices.
TFAH looks forward to working with the House of Representatives to help improve this legislation and ensure the next Farm Bill reduces hunger and poor health in America, rather than making the problem worse.
We do note optimistically that the Senate Agriculture Committee passed the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act on Tuesday under the leadership of Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Ranking Member Thad Cochran (R-MS) that included far fewer cuts to the nutrition title. We look forward to working with the U.S. Senate on their efforts as well.
In addition to these proposed cuts, the nutrition assistance programs are already scheduled for cuts effective November 1, 2013 when the temporary boost to the program that was passed in 2009 expires, resulting in people having less money to spend per meal and being less able to purchase nutritious, healthy foods.
SNAP and the nutrition title are vital to keeping Americans happy, healthy and productive. Malnourished children simply can’t perform well in school and will miss more days, which will in turn cause parents to miss more work and suffer ill-health themselves. The nation should be supporting these programs, not cutting them.”
Trust for America’s Health is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to saving lives by protecting the health of every community and working to make disease prevention a national priority. www.healthyamericans.org