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Farm Bill Update: Urge MA Delegation to Sign McGovern's House Resolution - NO CUTS TO SNAP!

Don't let summer heat and inertia suspend your anti-hunger advocacy!  The Congressional Recess a GREAT time to connect with your Congressional office, local restaurant staff, share meals with family and friends and talk about everyone having a place at the table.  The third item is an update on the Farm Bill deliberations. Meanwhile, we have a couple of brief action steps:
1.  Resolution to Congress: 
Our Massachusetts anti-hunger hero, Congressman Jim McGovern, has just circulated a "Resolution to Congress" in opposition to the SNAP cuts proposed in the House Agriculture Bill. The Resolution eloquently details the critical role SNAP plays in the United States - in addressing food insecurity, lifting children out of poverty, providing benefits efficiently and accurately, stimulating the economy -  and urges Members to REJECT the SNAP cuts in the House Ag Bill, HR 6083.  McGovern and national anti-hunger groups are hoping to collect as many House member signatures on this Resolution in the coming weeks.
Here's a copy of McGovern's House Resolution:  Please call your Massachusetts Congress Member and urge him or her add their name to the Resolution. Members can contact McGovern's office directly to sign on.  Here's the directory of members of Congress: or you can call Feeding America's toll free hotline (hotline to protect SNAP and other anti-hunger benefits) by calling: 1-877-698-8228   We will let you know as soon as we hear of any Senate Resolutions.  This is only for House members.
2. Chefs join fight against SNAP cuts:  
Hundreds of chefs have signed a letter sponsored by Share our Strength in opposition to cuts to SNAP cuts. The letter is still open for more signatures. Surely in your summer food revelry you might have the chance to bend a chef's ear.  Please urge a chef to join this effort!  Chefs can sign on at the following link:
3. Update on the 2012 Farm Bill: 
The following update on the Farm Bill from our friends at the Coalition on Human Needs:  Congress left for the August recess without coming to agreement on a Farm Bill.  The current 5-year bill is set to expire on September 30th. That leaves the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) funding and other farm programs unresolved until Congress returns in September. On August 2nd, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told Congressional Quarterly reporters that “the House is pretty well divided” because of proposed cuts to SNAP. The farm bill contained over $16 billion in cuts to SNAP and the free school lunch program over 10 years.  Conservatives want that number to go higher and Democrats would prefer it to go lower.

Nutrition cuts weren’t the only thing dividing Congress on the Farm Bill. Despite a severe drought and sense of urgency to deal with disaster relief aid for farmers, the House and Senate also failed to agree on an aid package for drought relief. House Republicans proposed a one-year extension (H.R. 6228) in order to move the Farm Bill forward before the August recess, but did not get support from farmers or nutrition advocates for the plan. On July 26, House Republicans decoupled the farm bill from the disaster relief aid, pushing the Farm Bill to the sidelines and passing an aid-only bill instead (H.R. 6233).This House tactic could have forced the Senate to pass a bill before recess began, but Senate Democrats refused to take up the stand-alone bill because of many dividing factors. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) said that she would not pass a bill that only covers help for some producers. In particular she was concerned that the aid package did not include fruit and vegetable growers and dairy producers, many of whom are her constituents. The House-passed aid bill would cut the Conservation Stewardship Program and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program by $639 million, providing $383 million to disaster aid and using the remainder for deficit reduction. Farm groups are concerned that this would just add to the cuts they are already expecting in a new Farm Bill. Some were also concerned that passing a short-term measure might delay a long-term, comprehensive bill.

It is unclear how the House and Senate will come to agreement on an extension of the Farm Bill before it expires but Chairwoman Stabenow has reiterated her commitment to working out a deal before the end of September. Agriculture Committee leaders could bypass House floor action, write their own compromise bill and attach it to “must-pass” legislation, but it is unlikely that this process will occur because Stabenow has said that the House must take action on the Farm Bill before a deal can be struck.

4.  Summer reading - Ending Childhood Hunger in America: Here are seven great writings/brief reflections from the Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity that are worth the time to download to your Ipad or smart phone and take to the beach (just two pages each!). Thanks to Dr. Deborah Frank, Vicky Escarra, Jim Weill, Billy Shore, David Beckmann, Joel Berg and Jane Stenson for their unwavering advocacy and inspiring words!  

The NEXT Food SNAP Coalition Meeting is Tuesday, September 25th from 10 to Noon at St Francis House.  There is NO meeting in August. 

Enjoy the rest of Summer !