By Valerie Ploumpis, National Policy Director
The U.S. House of Representatives is currently considering a reauthorization of the Farm Bill (H.R. 2), a massive government spending bill that governs nearly all of our federal farm and nutritional programs, including crop subsidies and insurance, as well as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also commonly known as “food stamps”). The Farm Bill is usually reauthorized every five years, often with bipartisan support.
So why are so many members of California’s Congressional Delegation opposed to the 2018 Farm Bill?
To start, it would sharply cut funding for the SNAP, affecting some five to seven million low-income people, of whom nearly one million people could be forced off the program in the next decade. Hardest hit by cuts to SNAP will be women, people with disabilities and low-income LGBTQ people. According to a just-released report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 1 out of every 4 LGBTQ people relies on SNAP, compared to 1 in 8 in the general population.
The 2018 farm bill would also require all able-bodied adults who receive SNAP to work at least 20 hours a week beginning in 2021, and increasing to 25 hours per week in 2026, or enroll in workforce training programs — ignoring the fact that the majority of SNAP beneficiaries who can work already do and that making it more difficult for people to eat won’t help anyone find food faster.
People who are disabled, pregnant or caring for a child under the age of 6 would be exempt from the new requirements, but the policy would punish older adults and those who live in rural areas, who already face significant barriers to finding work.
Given the realities of the midterm elections, the Farm Bill may not get the 218 votes to pass through the House, let alone the 60 it would need in the Senate. House Democrats are largely united in their opposition to SNAP cuts, and budget hawks regard the Farm Bill as a giveaway to big agricultural businesses. And representatives from many rural districts — already fearful of countries retaliating against Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs — strongly oppose the Farm Bill’s cuts to other programs.
But Equality California is not letting Congressional leaders’ attempts to take food from the mouths of low-income LGBTQ people go unanswered. In addition to joining an LGBTQ coalition letter to Congress opposing the Farm Bill, our Washington DC office is urging California’s Members of Congress to vote no.