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Proposed 2024 Farm Bill would cut SNAP benefits by nearly $30 billion

Almost 750,000 people in Alabama receive SNAP benefits and could be affected by the proposed cuts.

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On Thursday, the House Committee on Agriculture met to discuss amendments to the 2024 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill is a legislative package passed every five years that covers the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, agricultural research, billions in public subsidies for farmers, and other agricultural policy.

During Thursday’s meeting, Rep. Barry Moore, R-Alabama, said he was “pleased to see the fruition of the 2024 Farm Bill and especially pleased to see a strong farm bill that supports vital farm programs and safety net programs that are necessary to Alabama agriculture.”

“Since the last farm bill we passed, farmers, foresters, ranchers, and producers have fought tooth and nail to stay afloat against this administration and it’s consistently standing against them,” Moore said. “This legislation puts the farm back in farm bill.”

Democratic members of the House Committee on Agriculture were much more critical of the proposed farm bill, pointing to its projected effects on SNAP.

The Republican proposal would prevent the U.S. Department of Agriculture from increasing the price of its Thrifty Food Plan for any reason besides inflation; the Thrifty Food Plan is used to determine the amount of SNAP benefits. A proposed amendment removing this restriction from the farm bill was voted down by the committee along partisan lines.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that this restriction would reduce funding for SNAP by almost $30 billion over the next ten years.

On May 20, the Urban Institute released a report stating that SNAP benefits already “did not cover the cost of a modestly priced meal in at least 98 percent of counties” in 2023. Without the last revision to the Thrifty Food Plan in 2021, according to another report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, SNAP benefits in 2024 would have been only $4.80 per person per day instead of the current rate of $6.20 per person per day.

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The CBPP also calculated, using the CBO’s estimates, that the proposed cut to SNAP “initially would be equal to a day’s worth of benefits each month. It would rise to almost two days’ worth by the end of the budget window.”

“You may think that losing one day or two days a month worth of food is not significant, but I do,” said Rep. Shontel Brown, D-Ohio, during the meeting.

While Moore has not yet made a public statement regarding the proposed legislation’s effects on SNAP, he voted against the proposed amendment to allow the Department of Agriculture to update the Thrifty Food Plan and has criticized past expansions of the program. In February, Moore said that the Biden administration “play favorites with ERP [Emergency Relief Program], grab every tax dollar they can for SNAP, and pander to radical wealthy environmentalists.”

According to the US Department of Agriculture, in February almost 750,000 people in Alabama benefited from SNAP.

Alabama Arise’s communications director, Chris Sanders, told APR that SNAP “provides an economic boost for farmers, retailers and communities across Alabama and across the country.”

“SNAP cuts would harm children, older adults, veterans, and people with disabilities across Alabama, and they would make it harder for working families to keep food on the table,” Sanders said. “Congress should reject efforts to undermine SNAP’s effectiveness and focus instead on ways to build on its successes.”

The farm bill, including the proposed changes to SNAP, passed the House Committee on Agriculture in a 33-21 vote, with 4 Democrats joining the Republican majority. However, during the committee meeting, several representatives pointed out that the farm bill is unlikely to become law as is, due to likely opposition from the Democratic majority in the Senate and the White House.

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Chance Phillips is a reporting intern at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected].

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