As Farm Bill Makes Its Way Into Senate, SNAP Remains At Fore Of Discussion


A new Farm Bill is on its way to the full Senate where it will likely pass.

Eighty percent of funding in a farm bill goes towards Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs (SNAP). Lawmakers were supposed to pass a new farm bill last fall. But House members couldn’t agree on how much money should be spent on food assistance, which was a big reason why the legislation didn’t come up for a full vote.

Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wisc) is on the Agriculture Committee. He says chances are good that the GOP-controlled House will pass a new farm bill this time around. He says with the economy improving fewer people need SNAP making bigger cuts to food assistance possible.

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“There’s less pressure from the folks who support always increasing SNAP. They’re less likely to pressure that Republicans couldn’t accept because the economy is getting better.”

The numbers indicate otherwise, at least here in Wisconsin. The SNAP program in this state is called FoodShare. Currently, 852,000 people are enrolled. That’s 20,000 more than at the same time last year.

Maureen Fitzgerald is the director for advocacy for the Hunger Task Force in Milwaukee. The organization helps people apply for FoodShare benefits. She says things may be looking brighter in other parts of the country, but not in Wisconsin.

“When we look at the numbers, it just isn’t that way for Wisconsin right now. The numbers in March were an increase over February; the month of February was an increase over January.”

National numbers aren’t looking very promising either. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nearly 48 million Americans are enrolled in SNAP programs, a million more than last year.