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Presbyterians urged to persuade policymakers to advocate for a Faithful Farm Bill and head off SNAP cuts

House Agriculture Committee’s version of bill would hurt food-insecure families, according to PC(USA)’s Washington office

by Darla Carter | Presbyterian News Service

A proposed version of the Farm Bill could hurt food-insecure families, the Presbyterian Office of Public Witness fears. (Photo by Melissa Askew via Unsplash)

LOUISVILLE — The Washington Office of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is raising alarm about a potentially detrimental Farm Bill proposal that it believes would hurt families who have trouble affording nutritious food for their families.

The Office of Public Witness (OPW) is asking Presbyterians to contact their members of Congress about the latest version of the Farm Bill, which has been projected to cut almost $30 billion in food assistance over the next decade to families that depend on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

U.S. Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson’s proposal passed out of the House Agriculture Committee, which he chairs, on Thursday night despite opposition from hunger and environmental groups and scant support from Democrats, according to the Reuters News Agency.

“The House bill would have to be reconciled with a Senate bill led by Democrats and without strong bipartisan support, the House version has a slim chance of becoming law,” Reuters reports.

OPW supports a “bipartisan legislative process that comprehensively addresses the needs of all Americans” and has called cuts proposed by Thompson “unconscionable.”

According to American Rivers’ website, Congress reauthorizes the Farm Bill every five years to address the nation’s food, agriculture, nutrition, forestry, energy, and conservation needs.

Prior to Thursday’s vote, OPW and nearly 130 other faith-based organizations and the Coalition on Human Needs had called for “A Faithful Farm Bill” that would promote justice for underrepresented farmers, promote climate and conservation measures and increase funding for nutrition safety-net programs to help families struggling under the weight of inflation, according to OPW’s Action Alert.

Instead, the committee favored a Farm Bill that OPW contends would “force families to choose between putting food on the table and paying for other expenses such as rent, utility bills or prescription drugs.”

The Action Alert also states that the bill would harm the economy “by removing the stimulative benefits of SNAP while hurting farmers and ranchers” and raises concerns about potential changes to the Inflation Reduction Act.

Other concerns include limiting the “USDA’s ability to update the Thrifty Food Plan to reflect the real costs of a nutritious diet, based on science, along with reflecting food prices that remain stubbornly high.” That would not only hurt struggling families but also food banks, “including those run by our churches that assist them,” the Alert says.

Your “prophetic voice” is needed, OPW says, to urge Congress to work toward a Faithful Farm Bill that would uphold these priorities:

  • Protect, expand and strengthen programs that reduce hunger, address food insecurity and improve nutrition in this country.
  • Strengthen policies and programs that address climate change. They should support reducing food waste, cutting the agricultural industry’s greenhouse gas emissions, and conserving and protecting natural resources from environmental degradation.
  • Ensure equitable program implementation to remedy historically underserved communities.
  • Provide a fair and effective farm safety net that allows farmers, farmworkers and producers around the globe to earn economically sustainable livelihoods.
  • Safeguard and improve international food aid in ways that encourage local food security and improve the nutritional quality of food aid.

To read the full Action Alert and write to Congress, go here.

The Office of Public Witness is one of the Compassion, Peace and Justice ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

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