House and Senate negotiators rejected provisions in the House version of comprehensive agriculture legislation that would have reduced the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by $39 billion over the next 10 years, opting instead to reduce the program by $8.6 billion.
The House and Senate approved the conference report in early February, and the president signed the final legislation, P.L. 113-79 (H.R. 2642), on Feb. 7. In addition to extending nutrition programs, the new law reauthorized numerous other programs through fiscal year 2018, include farm income support, crop insurance, conservation, credit assistance, trade, research, international food assistance and rural development.
During conference consideration of the farm legislation, the ABA urged conferees to reject the harsh SNAP cuts in the House version of H.R. 2642 and approve the Senate’s proposed reduction of $4 billion over 10 years. The program, formerly known as food stamps, provides food and nutrition assistance to low-income households and helps approximately 47 million individuals each month.
“We understand that difficult fiscal choices must be made as Congress works to reach balanced federal spending policy,” ABA Governmental Affairs Director Thomas M. Susman wrote to conferees in December. “We are concerned, nonetheless, that proposed reductions to SNAP will result in failure to support millions of American families and children in maintaining the basic necessity of adequate food and nutrition.”
The ABA House of Delegates adopted new policy Feb. 10 during the association’s Midyear Meeting urging governments to promote the human right to adequate food and nutrition for all through increased funding, development and implementation of strategies to prevent infringement of that right. The policy also urges the U.S. government to make the realization of a human right to adequate food a principal objective of U.S domestic policy.