The Conaway Farm Bill Will Increase Hunger


House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway (R-TX) has released the text of his 2018 Farm Bill proposal. CFPA and our anti-hunger partners are disappointed to see that the bill’s nutrition title contains harmful and counterproductive proposals that would weaken the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), known as CalFresh in California. The changes the Chairman proposes would increase hunger and hardship among millions of Americans who rely on SNAP to help put food on the table when they fall on hard times. We call on all members of the California Congressional Delegation to strongly oppose any cuts to SNAP or other programs that help low-income households afford the basic necessities like a healthy diet.

TAKE ACTION! CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE TODAY - Tell them to reject Chairman Conaway’s proposal that would cut vital food assistance for millions of low-income working families, seniors, and people with disabilities. The Farm Bill should be bi-partisan and protect SNAP/CalFresh for the people who need it to help put food on the table.

Call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or click the button below to find your Representative.

Here is a script you can use. Tell the staff member you are connected with:

“Representative [Your Rep’s Name] should oppose Chairman Conaway’s Farm Bill that cuts SNAP/CalFresh for working families and limits SNAP/CalFresh benefits to one month for people who are looking for work or working less than half time. Cuts and harmful changes to SNAP/CalFresh that take away people's food have no place in the Farm Bill. [I/We] urge Congress to focus on policies that help create jobs and boost wages, rather than punishing people who are already facing economic hardship. Chairman Conaway’s proposal is a partisan attack on the best anti-poverty program we have: SNAP/CalFresh, which helps 1 in 8 Californians afford groceries.”

Outlined below are the proposals revealed today that will result in more hunger, poverty, and suffering for Californians who rely on SNAP/CalFresh.

  • Eliminating categorical eligibility, which California has used for years to protect low-wage working families from having their CalFresh benefits cut off when they work a few more hours and earn just a little more take home pay -- even when most of those household earnings must go toward California's sky-high housing, child care, and transportation costs. The change would also sever the connection to free school meals for thousands of California children.

  • Instituting counterproductive and punitive "work requirements" for CalFresh recipients between jobs or working less than half time. The bill would cut off food assistance after one month for individuals between age 18 and 60, including households with children over age 6, if they can't meet harsh work requirements. Households would be banned from SNAP/CalFresh for one year, even if they couldn't meet the 20 hour per week threshold because their hours were cut or they lost a shift for reasons not their fault.

  • Taking away funding that currently goes to food benefits for struggling households and instead using it to fund new state bureaucracies with little or no proven track record of success in connecting CalFresh recipients with meaningful employment.

  • Cutting food assistance for CalFresh households who also need help meeting their high utility costs.

  • For over 40 years SNAP has been one of the most successful and efficient federal programs, helping millions of Californians afford a healthy diet and lifting hundreds of thousands out of poverty. One of SNAP’s strengths has been its bipartisan support. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have always recognized our shared priority of helping families, children, seniors, and people with disabilities to afford a basic, healthy diet. It is disheartening to see this historically successful approach abandoned in favor of a partisan bill that makes major cuts to SNAP, while missing real opportunities to make improvements to the program by increasing inadequate benefit allotments and improving access for those who need support. It is particularly galling to see these proposed cuts to the safety net on the heels of the misguided tax cut bill that lavished trillions in benefits to the wealthiest Americans and large, profitable corporations.

    The bottom line for Chairman Conaway’s 2018 Farm Bill is this: it would increase hunger and hardship by taking away—or cutting—food assistance from many struggling Californians. This was a missed opportunity for Congress to work on a bipartisan basis to strengthen SNAP and improve conditions for millions of children, low-wage workers, seniors, and people with disabilities through better nutrition, health, and economic success.

    What's next in the Farm Bill process?

    We expect the House Agriculture Committee to begin its mark up of the Farm Bill on April 18th. Stay tuned for urgent calls to action in the coming days. We will need the support of all Californians fighting against hunger and for economic justice to make their voices heard in opposition to these harmful proposals. You can stay up to date on the Farm Bill and other federal nutrition policy by signing up for CFPA's Nutrition Action Alerts.

    CalFresh helps alleviate hunger and poverty in every California congressional district. Learn more about the importance of protecting and strengthening CalFresh in the Farm Bill by viewing and sharing CFPA's Farm Bill and CalFresh Congressional District Fact Sheets.

    Questions? Contact: Jared Call at 213.482.8200 ext 201