After years of preparation, the 2018 Farm Bill has now passed the markup phase in the House Agriculture Committee. While usually bi-partisan, this time it’s a little different.
“Unfortunately it was a party line vote, my colleagues from the other side chose to not engage. They did not offer one amendment to the bill today,” says Congressman Mike Conaway, the head of the House Agriculture Committee.
In total, the bill is more than 640 pages covering a wide range of topics. However, the main issue was with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP. This is the program formerly known as food stamps.
In this new bill, it would be required in all fifty states that those eligible for SNAP must work at least 20 hours a week to qualify. This also involves families with children of a certain age.
“If you have a dependent in your household who is six or older, you will need to do 20 hours of work,” says Libby Campbell of the West Texas Food Bank.
For foods banks across the country, the new SNAP changes would causes massive amounts of people to be right above the SNAP threshold, the exact kind of people places like the West Texas Food Bank deal with.
Food banks are also partially worried about cuts in SNAP education, which teaches citizens about healthy options.
“That’s an important component of what we do everyday in education,”
The first step in the bills life is done, however it’s got a long road ahead. For places like the West Texas Food Bank, they are hoping that they will see some changes along the way.
“I’m really hoping that the sides could come together and really think about the people who are food insecure in our country, and the people who actually use the SNAP safety net,” says Campbell.
For the bill to pass the House, it requires 216 votes in total. It would then be moved on to the Senate.