UnidosUS: Senate Bipartisan Farm Bill Takes Important Steps to Protect and Strengthen SNAP

WASHINGTON, DC—Today, in a 20-1 vote, the Senate Agriculture Committee passed a bipartisan farm bill sponsored by Committee Chairman Roberts and Ranking Member Stabenow. Among other provisions, the Roberts-Stabenow farm bill maintains and strengthens the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a critical program that helps more than 40 million Americans, including 10 million low-income Latinos put food on the table and make ends meet. SNAP is particularly important in addressing hunger in the Latino community. One in four Latino children live in households struggling to avoid hunger. Two-thirds of SNAP recipients are children, the elderly and people with disabilities. In 2015, SNAP lifted at least 1.2 million Latinos out of poverty.

“While not a perfect bill, we are very encouraged that the Senate has worked in a bipartisan manner to produce legislation that affirms, rather than undermines, a program that lifts up millions of hardworking Americans and helps them provide food for their families. This bill is a stark contrast to the House version and its parade of poison pills that would devastate more than 2.2 million low-income individuals, many of them Latinos,” said Janet Murguía, President and CEO, UnidosUS.

The House bill, H.R. 2, drafted on the heels of a massive tax cut for large corporations and the richest Americans, would result in increased hunger and hardship by cutting nearly $20 billion in SNAP funding; redirecting funds for nutrition assistance to a woefully underfunded and untested employment and training program and erecting further barriers to participation by including additional work requirements in order for participants to receive benefits. The additional work requirements are particularly unnecessary and punitive since Latinos have one of the highest labor participation rates in the country (65.8% vs 62.9% for whites). The bill was made even worse after provisions were added during the floor debate, including further restrictions on SNAP eligibility.

“America’s families and children deserve legislation that supports their health and economic security, and the Senate bill reflects that. We call on the House to protect SNAP and produce a bill that lifts up families instead of pulling the rug out from under them,” concluded Murguía.