WASHINGTON, June 21, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Senate today passed its version of the farm bill, which included $4.5 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly the food stamp program). The Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012 (S.3240) could impact 500,000 families and would reduce monthly SNAP benefits by $90. It was passed with 64 yes votes and 35 no votes.
"With these cuts, hungry Americans will find it more difficult to put food on their tables during this recession," said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. "We are disappointed that this happened, but we are grateful that the Senate voted down proposals that would cut SNAP benefits further."
Nutrition programs funded through the farm bill weave a vital safety-net that protects children, senior citizens, people with disabilities, and low-income working families from hunger and poor nutrition. These programs comprise about 80 percent of the cost of the farm bill and serve more than 46 million Americans.
"SNAP has prevented our nation's economic crisis from turning into a hunger crisis," said Beckmann. One proposal could have resulted in 2 to 3 million Americans losing their SNAP benefits and 280,000 children losing free school meals.
"We are, however, pleased that the Senate version of the farm bill includes common-sense reforms to international food aid," said Beckmann. The bill encourages purchasing food aid from local farmers, which in turn will help them become self-sufficient.
The fight to protect programs vital to poor and hungry people from deep budget cuts is far from over. The House of Representatives will submit its version of the farm bill as early as next week. If it is passed, both versions will have to be reconciled before the current farm bill expires in September.
"As the legislative process moves forward, we urge members of Congress to take a comprehensive approach to balancing the budget—and not to balance it on the backs of poor people," Beckmann said. "We thank all members of Congress who support this and the hundreds of Bread activists who advocate for this."
Bread for the World (www.bread.org) is a collective Christian voice urging our nation's decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad.
SOURCE Bread for the World