TFAH's Statement on the Conference Agreement on the Farm Bill

WASHINGTON, Jan. 29, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is a statement from Jeffrey Levi, PhD, executive director of Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and chair of the Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health on the Conference Report on H.R. 2642 – Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013, also known as the Farm Bill, which was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives today.

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"We are pleased that Congress came to an agreement on the reauthorization of the Farm Bill, which maintained some important nutrition education programs. Also, TFAH is encouraged that Congress acted under bipartisan leadership to settle long-term agriculture and nutrition policy.

However, the legislation includes $8.6 billion in cuts over 10 years to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). And, as many as 850,000 recipients could lose up to $90 a month in assistance. This deal is terrible for a significant number of the nation's most vulnerable Americans and comes on the heels of additional automatic SNAP reductions.

In the current economic climate, difficult decisions have to be made, but cuts to vital public health programs could have short- and long-term consequences. The cuts amount to 3.2 billion lost meals for families over the next decade, according to Feeding America.  In addition, the cuts make healthier foods, like fruits and vegetables, even more out of reach for many families, consigning them to cheaper, less healthy options.

Also, while immediate savings from cuts may seem expedient now, they will evaporate in a few decades when the nation gets the bill for poor health and nutrition. In fact, SNAP and other nutrition assistance programs can help curb healthcare costs in the future while providing immediate economic benefits to communities. 

According to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) research, every $5 of federal SNAP benefits generates nearly twice that in economic activity.  Also, many families rely on SNAP for only a short period: more than half of all new entrants in the mid-2000s participated for less than one year and left the program when their need passed. 

The nation cannot afford to create barriers that prevent families from providing nutritious meals to their children. TFAH looks forward to working with Congress in 2014 to reduce hunger and poor health in America."

Trust for America's Health is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to saving lives by protecting the health of every community and working to make disease prevention a national priority. www.healthyamericans.org

SOURCE Trust for America's Health



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