The Delta Caucus praised Sen. John Boozman (R-AR), Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), and a bipartisan coalition in the Senate for passing a Farm Bill that preserves vital SNAP nutrition programs as well as agriculture and conservation programs. The margin was an overwhelming 86-11.
Caucus Director Lee Powell, a senior USDA official as a Presidential appointee in the Clinton administration, said "Sen. Boozman as an Ag Committee member and co-chair of the Senate Hunger Caucus, and Sen. Roberts, Ag Committee chair, worked with many Democrats to preserve the basic SNAP nutrition program that is the vital safety net against hunger in America, as well as vital agriculture provisions that are crucial for our farmers in Phillips County and all across the Delta."
The Senate version of the Farm Bill protects Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefit levels and eligibility for children, seniors, people with disabilities, lower income working families, veterans and those seeking work.
In addition to the SNAP provision, the bill renews vital farm programs for crop insurance and land conservation at a time when farmers are facing low prices and the possibility of a trade war that could depress commodity prices even more.
Harvey Joe Sanner, senior Ag adviser to the Delta Caucus and a leader of the Tractorcade farm protests in the 1970s, said "The House Bill is totally unacceptable on many levels. The SNAP program is a great program that consumes a good portion of the farm products grown in the U.S. It also supports families and children who deserve our compassion and support."
Sanner said "On the political side, a coalition of producers, exporters, processors, conservationists and those focused on the nutrition programs are necessary to pass farm legislation. The Senate Bill does a far better job of addressing all of these diverse, vital views and concerns.
"The Senate version of the bill is vastly superior to the House version, which cuts SNAP benefits, eligibility, and would cause many children in SNAP households to lose their direct connection to free school meals. We also commend the 68 senators who defeated a detrimental amendment that would have made hunger worse by inflicting harsh work rules on struggling families and would require food retailers to check photo identification for SNAP EBT (electronic benefit transfer) card customers," Powell said.
"We would like to thank Joel Berg of Hunger Free America, all our colleagues at the Food Research and Action Center, Feeding America, the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, and the many partners who made calls and other contacts to their Members of Congress across the country and in the eight-state Greater Delta region in supporting passage of the Senate version of this legislation. This is one of the most, if not the most important bill for the Delta region," Powell said.
"The Delta Caucus urges all our partners to work for the Senate version of the bill to prevail as the House and Senate work to reconcile the two versions," Sanner said.
Addendum--USDA Food Insecurity Data for Delta region: Delta states unfortunately had five of the six worst food insecurity levels in America in the USDA 2016 data. Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama were the three worst, with Arkansas and Kentucky respectively fourth and fifth. The only state outside of our region in the worst six states was New Mexico.
Food insecurity in 2016 data from the USDA Economic Research Service (states with worst food insecurity):
1. Mississippi: 18.7%
2. Louisiana: 18.3%
3. Alabama: 18.1%
4. New Mexico: 17.6%
5. Arkansas: 17.5%
6. Kentucky: 17.3%