PHI Comments on Farm Bill Conference Agreement
January 28, 2014
STATEMENT FROM MATTHEW MARSOM, VICE PRESIDENT, PUBLIC HEALTH POLICY & ADVOCACY
"PHI recognizes the leadership of House and Senate agriculture principals to achieve a bipartisan, bicameral farm bill conference agreement that is expected to pass both chambers in the coming week. This bill reflects significant compromise and would provide necessary certainty for the nation’s food and agriculture system, including nutrition assistance programs, for the next five years.
“Unfortunately, this agreement includes a cut of $8.6 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). PHI opposes this cut to SNAP as it threatens the food security of households already struggling to meet their nutritional needs. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that this bill would reduce benefit levels by about $90 per month for 850,000 SNAP households who also participate in the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Hunger remains a serious public health concern in every county in every state.
“PHI is pleased, however, that the farm bill conference agreement makes other significant strides to help improve access to affordable, quality nutrition for those who are most vulnerable to hunger and poor diets. PHI also applauds the bipartisan support in this bill to maintain funding levels for state SNAP nutrition education programs. This bill would also strengthen SNAP retailer standards and stocking requirements to ensure SNAP participants have access to more healthy choices when shopping with SNAP benefits. Additionally, this bill authorizes the Healthy Food Financing Initiative as a USDA program, which can help increase access to food retailers in underserved communities. Finally, PHI supports the inclusion of an important new investment, Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Grants, which will provide SNAP participants with incentives to increase their purchase and consumption of fruits and vegetables.
“PHI will continue to work with Congress, the administration and our partners to address the public health challenges of hunger and poor nutrition. If this farm bill conference agreement passes, we would also work to support the effective and efficient implementation of new investments and mechanisms to improve access to quality, affordable nutrition for low-income children and households."