The House narrowly passed its farm bill that was drafted behind closed doors cuts food assistance and gives massive subsidies to the rich. The Senate passed it’s own bipartisan plan that helps farmers without robbing millions of Americans of their vital food assistance. The bill now goes to conference. Tell your MoCs to preserve the protections in the Senate bill and to vote NO on any version that hurts the poor and the environment.
The Senate passed its version of the farm bill last week with protections for food assistance, small farmers, and the environment. Both of Maine’s senators voted for the bill. The House, on the other hand, passed a bill that the Congressional Budget Office says will cause roughly 2 million low income people, including children, to lose their benefits or have them greatly reduced, and put large numbers of families at increased risk of hardship. While Rep. Pingree has been an outspoken opponent of such cuts, Rep. Poliquin has supported them and voted for the House bill, even though Maine has the third-highest rate of hunger in the nation. At the same time the House-passed bill makes it harder for families to put food on the table, it makes it easier for wealthy farm owners to gain billions in subsidies for themselves and even their extended family members who do not live or work on the farm. Some of those who stand to win big with the relaxation of the pass-through provision are current members of Congress who have already received hundreds of thousands of dollars in prior farm bill subsidies (see talking points below). The Senate version is a different story. Officially known as the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (S.3042), the bill is being championed by advocacy groups as being far superior to the House version. Not only does it preserve the SNAP program, it also protects drinking water from pesticides, boosts local food programs, and preserves local pesticide laws. It also includes three provisions drafted by Rep. Pingree. The Senate and House versions will go to conference after the July recess.
- Call Senators Angus King and Susan Collins and thank them for voting for the Senate bill and tell them to only support a conference version that doesn’t include any cuts or changes to food assistance programs, rollbacks on environmental protections, or subsidies that benefit the wealthy.
- CD1 Residents: Thank Rep. Pingree for her tireless work on the farm bill, and ask her to continue to speak out against SNAP cuts and subsidies for the wealthy, and to work on a new bipartisan House plan that mirrors the Senate bill.
- CD2 Residents: Call or email Rep. Poliquin that you are appalled by his vote that cuts food assistance to low income Mainers and provides subsidies to the wealthy. Tell him work requirements for SNAP will increase poverty and food insecurity in our state, which has the 3rd highest rate of hunger in the nation. Share this graphic!
- The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides food to 40 million low income Americans each month. While Republicans tout a $20 billion savings over a decade, Democrats argue that it would add $13 billion in new administrative costs.
- More than 200,000 Mainers already experience food insecurity. SNAP cuts will only increase that number.
- There is no evidence that taking away food assistance helps a person to find a job faster, but there IS evidence that it increases poverty.
- Current members of congress stand to gain big windfalls from the House bill’s relaxation of pass-through rules. Here are some of the biggest winners of prior federal subsidies, as tracked by the Environmental Working Group:
- Rep. Doug LaMalfa, R-California, has received $1,747,174 in farm subsidies
- Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Missouri, has received at least $986,789 in farm subsidies
- Rep. Kristi Noem, R-South Dakota, has received $573,568 in farm subsidies
- Rep. Ralph Abraham, R-Louisiana, has received $444,640 in farm subsidies