Farm Bill Heads to Conference Committee

By Lydia Fielder


NAJA Fellow Lydia Fielder reports.

In Miami, Cuban culture has a heavy influence on the culinary scene. Access to healthy food is important, especially in traditional communities. Many fresh and indigenous ingredients make up these dishes.

Congress is expected to meet and concede on a final version of the 2018 Farm Bill within the next few weeks. Nutritional programs, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, make up a large part of the bill. Recipients of SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, can use their benefits to purchase fresh produce and groceries.

The House and Senate have two varying drafts of the bill. While the Senate’s version has only slight revisions, the House bill, if passed, has stricter hourly requirements for work on the SNAP program. This could impact SNAP recipients throughout the entire country.

“With folks losing SNAP benefits, the very first place they go is the tribal government,” said Colby Duren, Policy Director and Staff Attorney at the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative at the University of Arkansas. “And the tribal governments help run the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations, another food support program. So the program would be very taxed by the influx of people needing to receive FDPIR benefits.”

Congress has until Sept. 30 to come to a consensus on the Farm Bill. After that, the bill expires. Duren says he anticipates passage of the bill with most of the Senate provisions in place.

One thought on “Farm Bill Heads to Conference Committee

  1. As a registered dietitian I think that this conversation is increadibly important. The US has two supplemental food programs, one is SNAP and the other is WIC. WIC is truely a a supplemental nutrition program as it is administered by nutrition professionals and limits beneficiaries to certain foods of high nutrition quality (no junk food). It also requires beneficiaries to attend nutrition and cooking classes. WIC has long been shown to make people healthier but is limited to children and pregnant moms. SNAP on the other hand is not a nutrition program. It allows the purchase of both healthy and unhealthy foods, it is not required of beneficiaries to receive nutrition education. Soda, cookies, chips are all allowed on SNAP and for native communities this worsens health problems like diabetes and heart disease that are so pervasive in those communities. Food companies are a powerful lobby and do not want benefits to be cut. Many dietitians would like to put limitations on SNAP food choices of abolish it all together and expand WIC benefits allowing comminitues to more broadly define nutrition risk according needs in their communities.

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