Hunger in the U.S. & a Farm Bill Update

Thanks to our partner, the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders, for this week’s updates!

girl with hungry signUSDA Releases Report on Household Food Security in the United States in 2022

This report examines American households’ ability to access sufficient food last year. The report shows 17 million households were food insecure at some point during the year, including 6.8 million households that reported very low food security. The study also found statistically significant increases in food insecurity from 10.2 percent in 2021 to 12.8 percent in 2022. Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) rightly notes that this increase underscores how the unwinding of critical pandemic interventions and rising costs have taken a toll on families. You can review a summary of key report findings here and review interactive trends here.

And on the Farm Bill —

Farm Bill Impacts—House Republicans Elect Representative Mike Johnson as Speaker 

After more than three weeks of paralysis and general dysfunction, Representative Mike Johnson (R-LA-4) was elected Speaker of the House by a vote of 220-209. Rep. Johnson was first elected to the House in 2016 and has never served in a senior leadership position or as a full committee chair. By all accounts, he holds extremist Republican views on a number of issues. Rep. Johnson stringently opposes abortion, is skeptical of climate change, and was an architect of Republican’s failed efforts to overturn the 2020 election. He has also been a vocal proponent of enacting further restrictions and slashing funding for SNAP.

What does his election mean for ag priorities like the farm bill? For one, his positions on SNAP cuts will not fly with House Democrats on the House Ag Committee and could further complicate negotiations. There is also the question of timing. In a dear colleague letter sent prior to his election as Speaker, Rep. Johnson said he would aim to pass the House’s farm bill version in December. This timeline would require Congress to pass a farm bill extension into 2024 to avoid major cliffs for farm bill programs and major repercussions for all Americans, but especially those in rural communities. Senate Ag Committee Chairwoman Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) has now called for a farm bill extension, as has USDA Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, potentially as part of a mid-November Continuing Resolution. At the same time, 61 House Republicans sent a letter to Rep. Johnson urging that the House pass a farm bill this Congress.