CHN: SNAP Recipients Brace for a Cut in Benefits

On November 1, all who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will see their benefits cut.  The cut to the program formerly known as Food Stamps is the result of the end to a temporary boost provided in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.  The cut will impact 23 million households, including 22 million children and 9 million who are elderly or have a serious disability.  The average monthly cut for a household of four will be $36, further squeezing already tight family budgets.  This cut will lower the average benefit to $1.40 per meal per person, not enough to provide healthy food.
The SNAP cut will also affect the economy.  The loss of funds flowing to states is estimated at $5 billion through the end of FY 2014, and $6 billion in 2015 and 2016 according to Congressional Budget Office.  For every dollar in SNAP benefits up to $1.79 in economic activity is generated.  The positive impact of SNAP dollars affects jobs in the agriculture sector and in the production of goods and services, as well as the retail, wholesale and transportation systems that deliver the products.  (For more information about the impact on SNAP recipients, including breakdowns by state, see Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ November 1 SNAP Cuts Will Affect Millions of Children, Seniors, and People With Disabilities.)

Meanwhile advocates and SNAP recipients are bracing for another potential blow to the program as House and Senate conferees are negotiating to finalize a Farm Bill.  The Senate-passed bill (S. 954) includes a $4.1 billion cut to SNAP over 10 years.   First, the House rejected a bill (H.R. 1947) that would have cut SNAP by $20.5 billion. Democrats believed the SNAP cut was too deep and Republican opponents believed it was not deep enough.  With no majority among Republicans for the nutrition section, the House leadership then decided to allow a separate vote on the agriculture provisions of the bill, with a new bill including the nutrition programs to be written later. Those who supported extreme changes to SNAP developed H.R. 3102.  This draconian bill cut SNAP by nearly $40 billion and would result in 3.8 million people being removed from SNAP in 2014, according to the Congressional Budget Office. It passed with only Republican support. (For more detail on the Farm Bill, see Advocates’ All-Out Effort to Stop Deep Cuts to SNAP Falls Short in the September 23, 2013 edition of The Human Needs Report.)

Unless farm legislation (PL 112-24), last passed in 2008, is extended or reauthorized, the bill’s agriculture programs will revert to provisions set in 1949, while nutrition programs will remain authorized. However, even if there is no agreement on a new farm bill, the various SNAP cuts identified in the House and Senate bills could find their way into broader deficit reduction efforts.

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