29 Jun BPC Action Applauds Senate Farm Bill Passage; Urges More Focus on Rural Infrastructure and Nutrition in SNAP in Agriculture, Infrastructure
BPC Action commends the bipartisan Senate passage of the Farm Bill, by a vote of 86-11. The bill includes critical components relating to rural infrastructure programs, including the Water, Waste Disposal and Wastewater Facility Grants that cover much needed pre-development costs, and full funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
The legislation takes small steps to improve upon current programs to promote nutrition in SNAP, including: providing mandatory permanent baseline funding of $50 million per year for the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentives (FINI) Program; establishing new FINI Training and Technical Assistance Centers; and establishing a new “Harvesting Health” pilot project for nonprofit organizations or State or local agencies to partner with health care providers to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to low-income individuals suffering from or are at-risk of developing a diet-related health condition.
While the broad support of this bill is an important step forward, there is still more progress to be made in making diet quality a core objective of SNAP and streamlining USDA programs for rural infrastructure projects.
We urge that House and Senate Conferees focus on these critical issues as they resolve differences between the bills, and we urge that they adopt:
- The Senate substitute amendment’s approach of maintaining the current administrative structure for the SNAP-Ed program;
- The House bill’s provisions on data collection for SNAP retail food store transactions; and
- The Senate substitute amendment proposal by Sens. Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet to conduct research into utilization of data for more precise management of dryland farming agricultural practices.
- Report language stating that diet quality should be a core objective of SNAP.
BPC Action looks forward to working with members on both sides of the aisle as the 2018 Farm Bill advances to enactment.