Worry More about A Living Wage and Less About SNAP

By Bethany Swanson
USW Intern

The Senate passed their version of the Farm Bill last week with an 86-11 vote, setting up a fight against the House over food stamps, farm subsidies, and conservation funding.

The Farm Bill sets the eating and farming policy in the United States. It’s more than just how food is grown; it impacts the agricultural industry, but it also affects how Americans use the land, and more importantly, how millions of Americans eat.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), otherwise known as food stamps, offers nutrition assistance to millions of eligible, low-income Americans. The program serves more than 40 million people annually and accounts for almost 80 percent of the Farm Bill's $430 billion five-year cost.

When the minimum wage has not been raised in a decade and when large corporations are spending their tax breaks on stock buy backs instead of the promised $4,000 a year raises for workers, SNAP benefits are more crucial than ever.

The House and Senate both have very different takes on the bill and need to begin resolving their major issues by September 30, when the current law expires.

Not a single Democrat supported House Republicans’ version of the bill, which would make major changes to SNAP.

The Republican House-passed bill  has strict new work requirements on many adults before they are permitted to receive food stamps, and it would also tighten eligibility requirements and move money from the program to others.

By decreasing the ability to be eligible for food stamps, many low-income families will no longer be able to provide for their children. Kids in families receiving SNAP benefits are currently automatically certified to receive free school meals. This now means that children could lose access to food both at home and school.

While the House has big changes in mind, the Senate’s version of the Farm Bill steered clear of any major changes to the SNAP program and instead focused on adding new conditions to increase safety to the environment, including adding provisions to maintain healthy soil and water.

The Trump administration supported House efforts and urged the Senate to similarly tighten the ropes on SNAP even though the majority of those who benefit from SNAP already work. Democratic legislators agree that the House’s version of the Farm Bill will hurt the working class and low-income families, especially children.

Instead of Congress decreasing SNAP benefits, they should increase the minimum wage so that fewer people need SNAP. They should also begin holding corporations accountable for the way they treat their workers.

The House and the Senate must work together and settle their differences to create a law that will empower the working class all across America, while still defending our environment and low-income families.

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Posted In: Union Matters

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