House Ag Democrats have issued a farm bill ultimatum to majority Republicans: ‘keep your hands off SNAP, or there won’t be a farm bill.’
Every Ag Democrat signed a letter to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, led by Ag Ranking Member David Scott, who said in June, “We stand united against any efforts to take food away from children, families, or any vulnerable American in this farm bill or any legislation.”
The letter pointedly reminds McCarthy that “playing partisan SNAP politics” resulted in early failures of the 2014 and ’18 House farm bill versions, jeopardizing safety net programs for farmers.
But Ag Republicans, led by GT Thompson, argue SNAP at 82 percent of the farm bill, and possibly more despite new work requirements in the Debt Reduction Act, must be reformed. Thompson said, “Let’s move from states going out of their way to keep employable individuals idle and disengaged and spend more time fostering connections with employers and education providers.”
And in an earlier interview with Agri-Pulse, Thompson said, “I don’t think we’d be doing our job if we just said, ‘we’re not going to look at any further (changes) to nutrition title.’ Well, that’s not right.”
Especially with USDA reporting an 11.5 percent FY ’22 SNAP error rate in the states, which drew bipartisan protests.
And then, there’s the spending revolt on the Republican ‘right,’ also challenging McCarthy. Former American Farm Bureau staffer Andrew Walmsley says, “There’s some on the far right, in particular, that want to continue to have a discussion, and that’s something that leadership and Congress will have to navigate, toward getting a farm bill done.”
Appropriations bill fights over spending levels and politically sensitive issues and departments could further complicate farm bill prospects, consuming precious floor time or worse–risking a government shutdown.