CHN: Farm Bill: House Committee Sends Bill With Nutrition Improvements to House Floor
The House Agriculture Committee approved a farm bill (H.R. 2419) on July 19 that includes $4 billion over five years in improvements to the Food Stamp Program and funding increases for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). The $4 billion will come from funds found by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rangel (D-NY) in programs under his committee’s jurisdiction. This funding level will increase the standard and child care deductions and disregard combat pay in calculating food stamp benefits, raise the minimum monthly benefit (from the current $10 a month to 10 percent of the USDA’s Thrifty Food Plan for one person), and allow recipients to retain more savings without losing eligibility, by exempting savings for retirement and education and by indexing today’s $2,000 – $3,000 asset limits.
Advocates had been hoping for $5.6 billion in nutrition improvements proposed earlier by the Agriculture Committee, but without offsets, and are urging House members to add the $1.6 billion. The increased funds would allow the standard deduction can be raised from the current $134 in the lower 48 states to $156, and then be indexed for inflation. With only $4 billion, the standard deduction is increased less. Increasing the standard deduction is one of the most important ways to restore the value of food stamp benefits, which have been eroding since the standard deduction was fixed in 1995. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a typical parent with two children will receive $444 less in food stamps in 2008 than they would have received if the standard deduction had been allowed to rise with inflation since 1995. (See http://www.cbpp.org/7-17-07fa.htm.)
What’s Next: The farm bill is expected to be on the House floor by as early as Thursday, July 26. The Senate Agriculture Committee has not yet acted, with no mark-up session scheduled at this point.
For more information, see the Food Research and Action Center, http://www.frac.org/Legislative/farmBill2007/alerts/07.20.07.html
For the Agriculture Committee’s description of the nutrition improvements with $5.6 billion in funding, see Title IV in http://agriculture.house.gov/inside/Legislation/110/FB/en_bloc_SBS.pdf