Farm Bill Passed by House Agriculture Committee Would Cut Food Assistance by $30 Billion

This statement can be attributed to Parker Gilkesson Davis, senior policy analyst, Public Benefits Justice, Center for Law and Social Policy. 

Washington, D.C., May 24, 2024—Early this morning on a vote of 33 to 21, the U.S. House of Representatives Agriculture Committee passed the Farm Bill, which includes provisions that could strip roughly $30 billion in food assistance from SNAP households over the next decade. CLASP is deeply concerned about this cut resulting from the bill’s failure to maintain the necessary updates to the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP), the underlying formula for determining SNAP benefits. 

In 2021, the U.S. Department of Agriculture modernized the TFP for the first time in nearly 50 years to reflect current food prices and dietary needs, resulting in a 21 percent increase in SNAP benefits per person. This 2021 update, which provided an extra $36 per month to SNAP participants, was crucial in ensuring that SNAP participants could afford a nutritious diet. Restricting future evaluations of the TFP undermines this progress and represents one of the largest cuts to SNAP benefits since 1996. Ensuring that SNAP benefits are sufficient is essential for promoting economic justice and addressing food insecurity. 

The bill falls short in other crucial ways. It doesn’t include adequate protections to prevent benefit theft through EBT card skimming and lets the authority to reimburse participants for stolen benefits expire. We are also concerned about the enhanced data collection on SNAP food purchases as this could lead to greater food policing of SNAP participants in the name of “diet quality.” The bill also doesn’t address college hunger, allow beneficiaries to purchase hot foods, or ensure that all green card holders in the United States can access SNAP

We urge the full House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate to reject the harmful proposals of this bill. We also urge Congress to uphold the integrity of the TFP for the well-being of all individuals and families experiencing poverty, include financial protections for victims of benefit theft, and collect data to expand and not limit participants’ purchasing power.