We did it! On December 20, the President signed into law H.R. 2, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018.
Also known as the 2018 Farm Bill, the legislation funds critical programs that address hunger and food production nationwide. After two years of advocacy efforts, FOOD for Lane County commends Congress for writing a bipartisan bill that protects and strengthens important nutrition programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), which food banks nationwide depend upon. These programs provide critical resources for our community members who are food insecure and will help our food bank put more meals on the table for families in need in 2019.
SNAP is the single largest program aimed at curbing hunger and helps put food into the hands of more than 40 million Americans. FOOD for Lane County is grateful for our members of Congress who opposed cuts to SNAP throughout the Farm Bill process. The original House Farm Bill proposal included SNAP cuts that would have reduced or entirely eliminated benefits for nearly 1 out of every 4 Oregonians who utilize the program. The Senate passed a bill without SNAP cuts by a strong margin.
In addition to SNAP, the Farm Bill also renews TEFAP, which provides food and financial assistance to food banks. TEFAP plays a critical role as well for food banks, providing food banks with nutritious US-grown foods to distribute to families in need, including more than 16 million individuals who do not qualify for SNAP assistance. The Farm Bill increases food purchase funding, which will benefit hunger-relief efforts across the country.
The Farm Bill also provides certainty for our nation’s growers and producers. It increases and makes permanent funding for programs that benefit Oregon agriculture — including providing crop assistance and supports, farmers markets, beginning farmers and ranchers and socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers.
Most importantly, the Farm Bill protects and preserves nutrition programs like TEFAP and SNAP, which will help provide a steady source of nutritious meals to the 55,370 families and individuals in our community who are food insecure. For the millions of children, seniors, veterans and families who need food assistance, this delivers a welcome peace of mind.