“It’s important for consumers to understand that this is a coherent food security policy that supports the production of food and fiber, it helps conserve soil, and then, again, the big picture: to address nutritional needs,” Nielsen said.
The $876 billion package, covering much of U.S. farm and food policy, narrowly passed out of the House last week with a 213 to 211 vote, the first farm bill ever with only Republican support. It was supported by both U.S. Reps. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, and Darin LaHood, R-Dunlap.
The measure restricts who is eligible to receive SNAP aid and also requires millions of Americans who receive food through government assistance to work 20 hours per week, enroll in job training programs or be cut off from those benefits.
Democrats have been relentless in their opposition to the changes to SNAP, arguing the new provisions are cruel and will cause food insecurity for millions of Americans.
Republicans say the program has grown far too large and is unsustainable. Imposing job requirements, they argue, will promote self-sufficiency, push people into the workforce and help lower the number of people on government assistance.
Nielsen said a farm bill should have bipartisan support, but efforts to include welfare reform detracted from the measure.
“This bill does so much for so many people that it should get 300 votes in the House," Nielsen said. "There should not be any question that it’s going to pass as long as it’s good policy. But the politics really entered the picture here.”
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