Thoughts on the Farm Bill and $8.6 Billion in Cuts to SNAP

Meredith Dodson, Director of RESULTS U.S. Poverty Campaigns
January 31, 2014

Over the past two years, RESULTS volunteers have worked tirelessly to protect and strengthen the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) in the final Farm Bill. On January 29, the House passed the Farm Bill 251-166, which includes an $8.6 billion cut to SNAP. The Senate passed the package 68-32 on February 4. As expected, the Farm Bill would curb state “Heat and Eat” programs, which currently allow states to give households as little as $1 in Low-Income Heating Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) benefits and thus significantly increase the amount of SNAP they get (households receiving any LIHEAP benefit are presumed to get the maximum deduction for utility costs when calculating SNAP benefits). The bill would require states to pay at least $20 in LIHEAP benefits before they could get the maximum utility allowance.* The cut would amount to an average loss of $90 per month in SNAP benefits for approximately 850,000 low-income households. For an overview of the SNAP provisions in the bill, see this detailed overview from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP). These discussions to cut SNAP are coming on the heels of an $11 billion across-the-board cut to SNAP benefits for all program participants that went into effect on November 1.

The silver lining is that the more egregious provisions passed by the House last fall were dropped from the bill, including the cuts to categorical eligibility, imposing harsh work requirements, and arbitrarily cutting off benefits for 18-50 year olds without children. While we oppose the SNAP cuts in the bill, it is important to remember that it is a major victory that these provisions are excluded. RESULTS volunteers's tireless work over the last year – including 80 face-to-face meetings with members of Congress and generating 155 media pieces -- will result in millions of low-income Americans continuing to receive SNAP. Thank you!

But a cut to SNAP is still a cut. As an organization committed to ending poverty, RESULTS opposes the final Farm Bill because these cuts will hurt thousands of struggling Americans. We urge members of Congress to continue to speak out against to cuts to SNAP as this process moves forward, and reject further cuts to SNAP in the future.