WASHINGTON, DC – The Root Cause Coalition applauds the passage of the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, popularly known as the “Farm Bill.” The Farm Bill preserves food access for more than 40 million Americans—a critical bulwark against food insecurity and higher healthcare spending.
The 2018 Farm Bill wisely excludes the stricter work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) contained in an earlier, House-passed version of the bill. These provisions would have eliminated a nutritional lifeline for more than two million Americans by expanding work requirements to cover all able-bodied SNAP enrollees between ages 18 and 59, including parents of school-aged children, without implementing adequate safeguards for this vulnerable population.
The Senate version of the bill clearly reaffirmed the value of SNAP as a vehicle for reducing food insecurity—a condition that accounts for billions in avoidable healthcare costs each year. The Coalition is pleased that members of the House and Senate subsequently arrived at a compromise in conference that heavily favors the Senate version, making no cuts to SNAP benefits or eligibility.
“The Coalition is pleased to see this long and complex legislative process arrive at a broadly agreeable conclusion,” said Barbara Petee, Executive Director of the Root Cause Coalition. “Safeguarding access to vital safety-net programs is one of our top priorities, and the nutrition title of the 2018 Farm Bill adequately preserves and protects our government’s core anti-hunger infrastructure.”
Although imperfect—the bill provides inadequate funding for key safety-net programs like the Emergency Food Assistance Program—the 2018 Farm Bill represents a measured, thoughtful, bi-partisan effort towards the reauthorization of some of the most significant functions of the federal government.
As this bill passes into law, the Coalition does note, however, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s proposed rule-change that would shrink the percentage of able-bodied adults who qualify for exemption from SNAP work requirements. This development signals that the struggle to protect access to SNAP is far from over. The Coalition will continue to monitor developments on this front and will issue further statements as necessary.
The Root Cause Coalition counts among its members local and national food banks that work directly with SNAP recipients, as well as numerous major health care providers and payers. The Coalition’s position on the 2018 Farm Bill represents a confluence of expert opinion that cuts across sectors, states and services.
About the Root Cause Coalition
Established in 2015, The Root Cause Coalition is a non-profit, member-driven organization comprised of more than 60 leading health systems, hospital associations, foundations, businesses, national and community nonprofits, health insurers, academic institutions and policy centers. The Coalition works to achieve health equity through cross-sector collaboration in advocacy, education and research. For more information, visit www.rootcausecoalition.org and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.