Yesterday, the United States Senate passed the farm bill, which establishes agricultural and food policy for the next five years. One key component within the bill is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), often referred to as food stamps.
The Senate version of the farm bill differs substantially from the House version in regards to SNAP.
Debbie Stabenow is a U.S. Senator for Michigan and the ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. She spoke with Stateside’s Lester Graham about the differences between the House and Senate versions of this year's bill.
Stabenow said she was pleased that the bill passed the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support, 86 "yes" votes to 11 "no" votes.
“This farm bill builds on what I authored last time in terms of making sure that we have food access for children, families, and seniors,” Stabenow said. “We certainly built in continual integrity measures to make sure it works well, but we came together in a bipartisan way and did not make any cuts to food assistance or families.”
The House bill, on the other hand, limits eligibility for SNAP, adding stricter work requirements in order for individuals to qualify.
Eileen Spring is the president and CEO of Food Gatherers, a member of the national network of food banks Feeding America. Spring spoke with Stateside about the impacts of the new House and Senate bills.
Spring said any limits on eligibility for food stamps would make the work she does very difficult.
“For every meal that a place like Food Gatherers provides,” Spring said, “SNAP provides the equivalent of 12 meals. So any changes, any reduction would be a dramatic increase on relying on private programs like Food Gatherers, and we would be hard pressed to meet that need.”
Listen above for the full conversations with Michigan Senator Stabenow and Food Gatherers’ Eileen Spring.
This post was written by Stateside production assistant Sophie Sherry.