Anti-hunger groups criticize Boozman farm bill as more farm groups praise it

June 25, 2024

This article was originally published by Fence Post on June 25, 2024.


Key anti-hunger groups have criticized the farm bill proposal released recently by Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., the ranking member on the Senate Agriculture Committee, while more farm groups have praised it.

The Food Research & Action Center said it is “deeply disappointed” in Boozman’s bill because it “seeks to cut nearly $30 billion from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits over the next decade while claiming that no SNAP participants will see a single benefit cut.”

FRAC added, “This proposal claims that the annual inflation adjustment will be enough, which ignores the fact that prices at the grocery store have outpaced inflation, and that the inflation adjustment does not take current prices, food and beverage options on the market, and nutritional guidance into consideration.”

“This proposal also seeks to privatize SNAP administration and require error-prone states — states experiencing frequent errors due to administrative burdens, understaffing, high case volumes, human error, and resource constraints — to cover SNAP benefit costs.,” FRAC said.

FRAC also said Boozman’s framework “mirrors” the bill introduced by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson, R-Ark., and that the bill introduced by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., would “strengthen” nutrition programs “without harming SNAP.”

Abby Leibman, president and CEO of MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger said, “This proposal is a non-starter for us, and it does not move the conversation forward in any meaningful way — it’s just another impediment to passing a truly bipartisan farm bill.”

Leibman added, “We urge policymakers to instead advance the responsible, common-sense, visionary, bipartisan policy solutions outlined in Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow’s farm bill proposal, which provides important steps to address food insecurity and reverse the course of hunger in this country.”

A spokesperson for Feeding America, a network of food banks, said the group does not have a statement on the Senate GOP bill, but called the House GOP bill “cause for concern.”

“While the [House GOP] bill proposes several improvements to nutrition programs, it also contains provisions that, over time, weaken the government’s ability to provide vital resources to people facing hunger,” Feeding America said.

The American Sugar Alliance, which represents cane and beet growers, praised the bill.

Neil Rockstad, a Minnesota sugar beet grower, who is president of the American Sugarbeet Growers Association, and Patrick Frischhertz, a Louisiana sugarcane grower, said in a joint statement, “Our farm families need a bipartisan, bicameral, and highly effective farm bill.”

“Sen. Boozman’s proposal represents another positive step towards its enactment. We thank ranking member Boozman for his diligent efforts to understand the needs and concerns of the American sugar industry and to respond with improvements to sugar policy similar to those championed by Senate Chairwoman Stabenow and House Chairman Thompson.”

National Fisheries Institute President and CEO Lisa Wallenda Picard said available drafts and outlines of both the House and Senate bills “include an interest in technical assistance to help improve cold chain capacity and infrastructure, an increased awareness of the need for seafood in nutrition programs, a focus on aquaculture, and an effort to give seafood-related businesses access to much needed credit in the form of the Food Supply Chain Grant and Guaranteed Loan Program.”

“In addition, proposals note the need to evaluate ways to expand seafood processing in coastal communities and establish a seafood liaison at the Department of Agriculture to improve coordination on seafood policy.”

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities applauded Boozman’s inclusion of “the Research Facilities Act and mandatory investment of at least $1 billion in public universities’ research facilities in the farm bill framework.”

“This funding would help address the substantial deferred national maintenance backlog of over $11.5 billion that has strained cutting-edge agricultural research.”