SNAP program is biggest roadblock in Farm Bill deal before deadl - FOX34 Lubbock

SNAP program is biggest roadblock in Farm Bill deal before deadline

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

Congress has four days to pass a $430 billion Farm Bill, as funding for safety net programs for farmers is set to run out on September 30.

Andy Black, with the Texas Hunger Initiative, said the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) carries the largest percentage of the Farm Bill budget. He added while it may not be related to farmers, almost four million Texans benefit from the program, according to the Texas Department of Health and Services. 

"It touches on such a really sensitive and important issue. We're talking about making sure folks have access to the nutrition they need to live and to live healthy if at all possible. When we're talking about 70 to 80 percent of the Farm Bill budget, getting that part right is going to be a critical element," Black said.

Black said there is no deal yet, due to the gridlock over work requirement proposals in the house version of the bill.

"I don't know that there are really any people out there who don't want folks who are able to work to have the chance to find meaningful work. There are a lot of challenges of making sure you have the right ways of doing that while also making sure that folks have the other basic resources like food and not having to worry about food while they get themselves to that point," Black said. 

Black said there are plenty of misconceptions about the SNAP program, including its contributions to the economy.

"Studies have shown us that every dollar spent in SNAP benefits actually brings about a $1.80 into a local economy because it's spent at a local grocery store, which helps them employ more people, which helps them buy more products from people around so that's one of those win-win kind of aspects the SNAP program that sometimes is overlooked," Black said.

Shawn Wade, with Plains Cotton Growers, said there are several security measures farmers need in this year's bill.

"Our Title One safety net programs, the conservation programs, marketing loan programs... those are the types of programs that are directly authorized by the Farm Bill and would then fall under the need for an extension for the bill if a final agreement cannot be reached, or the best case scenario is they get this conference done and get it passed as soon as possible," Wade said.

Wade said farmers have worked hard to get cotton back into the Title One safety nets, which he said are now at risk if a deal for the Farm Bill is not reached. 

"The next farm bill will carry that forward and maintain that eligibility for cotton as a program crop under Title 1. That's kind of our main focus. Just making sure all the work we've done over the last few years gets carried forward and kind of sets up that safety net for cotton producers for the next five years," Wade said.

Wade added they are used to bills like this running behind schedule, but said farmers need a plan in place so they can invest in the next growing season.
  

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