Additional SNAP Requirements Endanger the Future of the Farm Bill
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conway has delayed the release of a draft law renewing farm and nutrition programs due to opposition to cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also colloquially known as the “Food Stamps” Program. SNAP offers nutrition assistance to more than 47 million eligible, low-income individuals and families, and is authorized and subsidized by the Farm Bill. The bill, the cost of which has topped $100 billion in previous years, authorizes programs overseen by the USDA, ranging from payments to farmers to funds to prevent forest fires. The current Farm Bill ends September 30.
The draft SNAP proposal would expand the number of adults — including able-bodied adults without dependents, known as ABAWDs — who are subject to work requirements. In part, this would be done by raising the work requirement to age 65. ABAWDs aged 18-49 can now receive food stamps for three months as long as they work or are in an employment and training program. Under the proposal, they would have to meet work requirements until age 65.
Proponents of the current draft state the money saved as a result of the additional work requirements would be invested in SNAP education and training programs, whereas opponents argue the proposed changes would result in the loss of 8 million people from SNAP. The food industry, of course, has a vested interest in how this all transpires and would likely coalesce to oppose any legislative or policy initiatives that would have the effect of curtailing SNAP eligibility.